Sen. Ted Cruz, and Hispanics, made history on Monday, but it happened without many bells and whistles.
Cruz became the first person of Hispanic origin in U.S. history to win a presidential caucus or primary. He won the Iowa caucus – the first presidential contest in the nation – and by the largest number of votes ever in that state, to boot.
But the historical dimension of that vote was noted by just a few media outlets, including Fox News Latino, and many conservatives theorize that the underplaying or downright ignoring of Cruz’s trailblazing is rooted in the fact that he is a Republican.
“It’s all about ethnic and racial identity politics,” said Alfonso Aguilar, president of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles and a former official in the George W. Bush administration.
He says liberals and Democrats require that a Latino “agree with them to be [truly] Hispanic.”
“We don’t have a herd mentality. This is a different era. The Hispanic community is more diverse, it’s more integrated. We’re in the highest levels of government, and running for the presidency,” Aguilar said. “But Democrats have a problem with Cruz and [Marco Rubio] as presidential candidates.”
Rubio had a part in another historical milestone in Iowa.
Together, he and Cruz got a combined 51 percent of the GOP caucus vote in the predominately white, rural state.
“Why isn't this being reported as a big, big deal?” asked Western Journalism. “Why are no media outlets making banner headlines that a Hispanic just won a primary?"
In another Western Journalism story, Michael Reagan, the late President Ronald Reagan’s son, writes: “The goal of this primary race is to win back the White House. To do that, Republicans need a message that’s inclusive and welcoming to minorities. Iowa, in case you didn’t notice, the Republicans are no longer the party of angry old white men.”
“About 65 percent of caucus votes went to Cruz, Rubio and Carson — Republicans who, last time I looked, are Latino or black.”
Many Latinos balk at the depiction of the historical milestone of Cruz’s Iowa victory as a pivotal moment for their community.
Cruz and Rubio have called for hard line immigration policies, have expressed opposition to the Affordable Care Act, and to other programs and policies that a majority of Latinos support.
“What was there to cover?” said Miguel Perez, a journalism professor at Lehman College in New York and a syndicated columnist on Latino affairs. “There was nowhere in the country where Latinos were celebrating Cruz and Rubio.”
“These two guys are against everything the Hispanic community wants and needs,” Perez said. “Why would we, the Hispanic community, be enthusiastic about their going up in rank? Why would we promote and celebrate anti-Latino Latinos?”
Perez, who is Cuban-American, like Cruz and Rubio, say he feels no pride over their success so far.
“These are people who remember they are Hispanic only when it’s convenient,” he said. “Rubio cares much more about the right wing of his party than about his community. He says that when he becomes president, he’ll make immigration merit-based instead of family-based.”
“That betrays the principles on which his own parents came here – family reunification.”