Open Letter to Sen. Rubio on Trump

Marco Rubio, U.S. senator from Florida and Republican presidential candidate (Matt Johnson/Flickr)

Marco Rubio, U.S. senator from Florida and Republican presidential candidate (Matt Johnson/Flickr)

Dear Senator Rubio,

I would like to personally congratulate you for your recent successes in the race for the GOP presidential nomination. Despite winning the largely disfranchised and economically exploited colony of Puerto Rico, your campaign seems to be hanging on by a thread. While winning Florida would boost morale amongst your party’s establishment, at this point it may only be a moral victory.

Though we have some things in common, you and I are certainly on different ends of the political spectrum. We are both relatively young, energetic, ambitious and have a love for rap music and hip-hop culture. Perhaps it was hip hop that alerted you to the issues facing African-American and Latino males in the criminal justice system. You gave an excellent yet politically measured answer regarding Black Lives Matter protesters and their concerns. You spoke about the ill treatment many African Americans face at the hands of law enforcement, offering a personal anecdote of a friend of yours who has been stopped “eight or nine times” while acknowledging your own white privilege. While you stopped short of discussing federal legislation to combat these issues, your interview entered a level of compassionate conservatism seldom heard amongst all the talk of carpet bombing, torture, and tone deaf “all lives matter” commentary that has dominated Republican discourse. While I denounce and deplore your stances on immigration, marriage equality and a host of other issues, it made me feel somewhat at ease to know you thought about these issues. You seemed poised and ready to answer the question, which made me think the Jack Kennedy comparisons weren’t as insane as I initially thought they were.

Since and even before then, you’ve made some major missteps. Your campaign staffers harassed two black graduate students and their Black professor for reasons that they couldn’t explain (I think we both know what that reason was). Both graduate students left emotionally affected, one stating “our parents are immigrants just like his.” You’ve referred to Assata Shakur as a “cop killer” without providing any context to her situation. In 2014 you also chastised some young people advocating for the DREAM Act as they were angrily escorted out of an event in South Carolina. You were critical of President Obama’s executive action that would help scores of Latino kids, the only thing separating them from yours and mine being a couple of sheets of paper.

However, we agree that the frontrunner (I would argue the top two) in your party pose a dangerous threat to the future and security of this nation. I and many on the left have been secretly cheering for you, since Governor Kasich is a long shot. None of us want to see a man who calls women “fat pigs,” wants to ban the world’s most populous religion, initially refuses to disavow our country’s most murderous terrorist group, criticizes the service of our war heroes, encourages his audiences to rough up citizens executing their first amendment rights (including women) and calls Mexican immigrants “rapists” without a shred of evidence, become leader of the free world. You made it seem as though the KKK was the last straw and I quietly hoped your campaign would gain traction after that.

However, one thing gives me pause and it is something you can still correct. Senator Rubio, you have stated that despite Donald Trump’s lunacy that you will support him if he wins the GOP nomination. Representative Rigell and Senator Sasse have pledged not to support Trump even if he wins. If you are willing to criticize Trump for failing to disavow and condemn the KKK, but willing to endorse him to save your party, the message is clear. Senator, it appears as though you are one who puts politics above principle. Recently, you pivoted away from an opportunity to condemn Trump’s incitement of violence at his rallies. It truly bore the stench of a politically calculated move and utter cowardice. You’re devolving, and if you do not make a change you will go from being remembered as a smart young conservative and future leader of your party, to the guy who told a penis joke in a presidential debate. Your stance is about more than the GOP, it is about the future of American politics and policy. If you believe that the bombastic, seditious, megalomanic Trump will listen to you or other members of the party, especially after he bullied and insulted his way into forcing you to support him, you are as delusional as he is. There is only one star in the Trump show, and other members of the GOP establishment will be relegated to contestants on The Apprentice.

I am imploring you to stand up and not support Trump if he wins. Think of the hardworking, honest Mexican and Mexican Americans in Central Florida. Think of your African-American friend who has been pulled over eight or nine times. Who or what will protect him in Trump’s America, when the powers of congress have been weakened? How would he feel about your flaccid position regarding the Ku Klux Klan and their century and a half of domestic terrorism, intimidation, and violence?  History remembers leaders, not political flunkies like your rival Chris Christie has turned out to be. Christie went from touting the fact that his state had a large Muslim population to bowing down to a man who wants to ban them from entering a nation that claims to accept the huddled masses.

Taking a firm stance will turn you from a GOP team player to someone who stands on the side of the people. History doesn’t just remember winners, it remembers warriors, those who take a moral position and fight honorably for what’s right. You have a duty to obstruct his plans should he win the White House, much like your party did with President Obama (unfairly in the latter case). You and other members of the GOP have justified supporting Trump because you believe Hillary Clinton will be bad for this country. You cite her foreign policy record in particular, claiming that she and the Obama administration have made critical mistakes and weakened our position in the world. However, Donald Trump isn’t even an elected official and he is already ruining diplomatic relations with Mexico. Former Secretary of State Madeline Albright has stated that in her travels around the globe people have expressed horror over Donald Trump’s reckless words and antics. Before you accuse me of being a Hillary Clinton supporter, take a look at what I have written about her in the past. I have been as critical of her as I have been of you. The nation is looking to you to stand on principles, not to play ball. Trump is a proven racist and a potential tyrant. He must be hit from both the left and the right.

***

Jason Nichols is an academic and artist with a range of interests, which include Black masculinities, hip-hop music and dance, bullying amongst emerging adults, and Black and Latino identities and relations. He is a full-time lecturer in the African American Studies Department at the University of Maryland-College Park and the current editor-in-chief of Words Beats & Life: The Global Journal of Hip-Hop Culture, the first peer-reviewed journal of hip-hop studies. Dr. Nichols is also a rap artist who raps under the moniker Haysoos and is one half of the internationally recognized rap group Wade Waters.

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