Marco Rubio

Source: (Photo by Larry Marano/FilmMagic) / Getty


On the surface, perhaps Florida Republican Senator and now GOP candidate for president, Marco Rubio, is the right wing’s answer to President Obama.

Like Obama, Rubio is a relatively young politician to command national attention. In the same way that Obama can reference Jay Z and Lil Wayne, Rubio will openly declare his love of 2Pac for publications like GQ. The same goes for Rubio’s memoir, which chronicled his Cuban heritage much like Obama dissected his biracial background and upbringing in his. And similar to Obama’s historic and Hillary Clinton goal-blocking win of the Democratic presidential primary in 2008, Rubio has proven that he, too, is unwilling to listen to his party’s establishment and their calls for him to “wait his turn.”

But even if Rubio manages to best his political mentor, Jeb Bush, and the rest of the prospective Republican presidential contenders, Marco Rubio will be as close to Barack Obama as Chris Brown is to being on the level of Michael Jackson. The same way Brown is more like Bobby Brown, Rubio is more a throwback to past Black Republicans than he is to POTUS.

What was most interesting about Rubio’s announcement of his plans to seek the GOP presidential nominee was his swipe at Hillary Clinton, deeming her a “candidate from yesterday.” Rubio, who is anti-gay marriage, pro-Cuba isolation, anti-choice, a denier of climate change, and now against his own immigration reform legislation, represents more of a relic politically than his 67-year-old potential adversary.

Much of Obama’s initial allure over Clinton in 2008 was his opposition to the Iraqi invasion. The one thing that separated Rubio from his GOP brethren and made him appear as though he could realistically appeal to a general electorate was his push for immigration reform — and he surrendered on that a long time ago.

It’s a point CNN’s Jake Tapper tried to drive home to Rubio in a recent interview — namely with respect to marriage equality. Rubio tried to squirm around the opposition – claiming to be fine with letting states decide rather than the court system, but his anti-gay reputation precedes him. That said, I highly doubt Rubio’s pastor, Rick Blackwood, who has denied evolution, partakes in exorcisms, and is staunchly anti-gay, will receive a fraction of the treatment Jeremiah Wright did.

But, it does show what little change Rubio represents in comparison to Obama. Has the transformative rhetoric that Obama employed as a candidate in 2008 lived up to his administration? Not completely, but he’s certainly been progressive on numerous issues both domestic and foreign since taking office. Moreover, his legacy will likely only prove how transformative a commander-in-chief he truly was — despite constant opposition from Republicans in Congress.

If Rubio became president, what would he be? A Latino name attached to political policy largely supportive of and catering to old white men? To win the GOP primary, a candidate often caters to them along with evangelical Christians, who majorly hold cultural views that are increasingly proving themselves to be archaic. Rubio can talk about 2Pac in the press all he wants, but his views are more along with the white executives who profit from the culture than those actually contributing to it. Whoopity damn do.

Rubio recently told MSNBC’s Morning Joe “no doubt I’m more experienced than I was in ‘08.” We see how well the “experience” argument played out for Obama’s competition in 2008. Meanwhile, for all of his experience, Rubio is not nearly as talented a politician as Obama is. Pop culture competency can help, but it doesn’t trounce politics in a political race. So while Marco Rubio may stand out as the youngest presidential candidate on the Republican side, he sounds like all of the older men in the race. That won’t do much for Rubio in the way of attracting minorities and young people, but it’ll do a world of good for convincing them that Hillary Clinton is better for their futures.

I don’t believe Marco Rubio is clever enough to sell Beyoncé a blonde weave, but it’ll be fun to watch him and others pretend he’s “transformative.”

Michael Arceneaux hails from Houston, lives in Harlem, and praises Beyoncé’s name wherever he goes. Follow him @youngsinick.

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