Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz Diverge in Approach to Their Hispanic IdentityBy LIZETTE ALVAREZ and MANNY FERNANDEZ DEC. 16, 2015 MIAMI —One candidate, Marco Rubio, nurtured by the sprawling Cuban-American community here, bounces effortlessly between two cultures — fritas and hamburgers, Spanish and English — in a city so comfortably bilingual that news conferences pivot between the languages.The other, Ted Cruz, is partial to cowboy boots, oversize belt buckles, hard-right politics and the fire-and-brimstone style of the Baptist church. Mr. Cruz, a rare Cuban-American outlier in a state where Hispanic usually means Mexican-American, attended overwhelmingly white Christian schools in Houston and prefers Spanglish to Spanish.
This article assumes that Rubio is more authentically Hispanic than Cruz.But an unasked question is how authentic is “Hispanic culture?” Is it a real thing or is it more of an elite conceptualization? How much does “Hispanic” culture really exist relative to Cuban and Mexican cultures?For example, could Cruz’s efforts to develop for himself a Texas Big Man personality — a friend who has knowN Cruz for a number of years thinks he’s trying to turn himself into an LBJ knockoff (not wholly successfully, of course) — might actually be more appealing to Mexican-American voters than New York liberals might think?New York liberals naturally see white Texans as the enemy, and have recently come to imagine that Mexicans are the army that will ride in and rescue them from white Texans.But in real life, Texans and Mexicans aren’t as complete opposites as New Yorkers hope and dream. There would be more second thoughts at the New York Times about the Mexicanization of America if Mexicans were known as Extreme Texans.