As I listen to Senator Rafael (Ted) Cruz and his headline-generating PR-machinations, I wonder how his experience as a child of an immigrant, and more particularly, as a child of a displaced immigrant from a totalitarian country, affects his worldview.
In the last year, Cruz has often brought up the saga of his father, who fled Cuba as a teen in 1957 after enduring imprisonment and torture at the hands of this government. This last piece of information was also revealed during his recent dramatic monologue on the Senate floor.
Cruz, who made no mention of his Latino roots until his primary campaign a year ago, began foisting this saga of his father in August 2012 when he spoke at the Republican Convention in Texas. While there’s little doubt about the geographical origin of his father, the chair of the Texas Democratic Party, Gilberto Hinojosa publicly cast suspicion over the credibility of Cruz’ Latino roots.
If I was named ‘Rafael Cruz,’ I would be proud to use that name, Hinojosa said. The guy has denied his own Hispanic heritage, if he is a Hispanic.
Hinojosa considers the senator’s culture as one of political convenience and not personal ownership.
Regardless, Cruz has absorbed his father’s identity, and that identity is of an individual suppressed by the tyrannical government of Cuba. Cruz has vicariously lived his father’s experience in the same way that Baby Boomers absorbed their parents’ experience of the Great Depression – the real fears of their parents’ about poverty, insecurity and instability, along with the drive to persevere. These were not abstract notions. They were visceral results of a hugely traumatic experience.
Likewise, Rafael Cruz understands at an immediate, personal level that laws can be usurped, and that autocracy is a norm.
It is body memory, a family memory that is as much a part of his narcissist identity as is his Hispanic name. He may wish to hide his true name and take on a Westernized moniker but “Rafael” is still his name.
In the midst of that rambling marathon, Cruz mentioned many gross historic events from the Bataan Death March of the Korean War to the Holocaust of WWII. But he did not mention Castro’s communist revolution and the subsequent shutdown of civil rights. He did not speak of the infamous firing squads of Castro’s Cuba. And while he spoke of his father’s singular tale, he did not talk about the mass exodus of Cubans who found their new home here, whilst leaving their possessions, their professions, their family and their oppression. Rafael did not speak of Castro, a lawyer-turned-revolutionary, who cozied up to the then-U.S.S.R. He did not talk about the Cold War. He did not tell his audience how Cuba had withered to one of the weakest economies in the region – duped by a smooth talking young man who promised democracy to his followers.
However, Rafael recognized the existence of a “ruling class,” a term he used during his talk to describe the center of American governance. To Rafael, this democracy is an elite, shadow cadre whose machinations control a farce of a government. To Rafael, this “ruling class,” this democracy must be shut down.
Yes indeed. Rafael knows his true name. That name is not patriot; it is not defender of democracy. At this point, it is not even as a member of the partisan parties on the Hill, for he is a tassel of a fringe.
Rafael’s identity is that of an anarchist, a revolutionary whose cause is autocracy.