Thursday, April 11, 2024

When it comes to Jeb Bush, looks can be deceiving


Last Monday, Jeb Bush, ex-Governor of Florida and son and brother of two past President Bush’s, confirmed that he is seeking the Republican nomination for president in 2016. Jeb Bush and a few in the Republican establishment understand that the Latino vote is paramount for victory in 2016, and his announcement was a clear reflection and recognition of this fact.

During his speech, Mr. Bush displayed his mastery of the Spanish language, his direct affiliation with our community by way of his Mexican wife and their children, and his self-described record of helping Hispanics in Florida. At the conclusion of his announcement, Bush directly addressed Latinos, saying in Spanish, “Ayúdenos en tener una campaña que les da la beinvenida. Trabajen con nosotros por los valores que compartimes y para un gran futuro que es nuestro…” For someone unfamiliar with Bush’s current record, this invitation seems truly genuine. But the irony of these short blurbs from his speech is that they clearly contradict an executive record that consistently favors a highly privileged class and goes against the values and needs of Latino voters.

The image of himself that Mr. Bush has painted and promoted is of a conservative who stands with our community. But in practice, we do not find any real evidence that indicates he is indeed aligned with the needs of Latinos. What is interesting is that had it not been for a group of protesters who interrupted Mr. Bush to confront his position of denying a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, he would not have touched the issue of immigration in his kick-off speech. In the past, Mr. Bush has said he supports reform, including citizenship, but since then has hesitated in taking a strong position. Now, he says he favors eliminating vital programs like DAPA and DACA, and that he wants to shift his focus to border security.

But Mr. Bush and his agenda have other issues to confront with Hispanics, including climate change, the Affordable Care Act and economic equality. According to Mr. Bush, those who accept the indisputable science that confirms the reality of climate change are “arrogant.” I find it hard to believe that he values economic mobility, a true democracy and the health of our community, when he opposes measures that would increase the minimum wage, but passes lows that make it more difficult for Latinos to vote; when he prefers to block the expansion of health programs like Medicaid but reduces taxes for the most wealthy citizens. It is also difficult to assume that he would be the candidate of change, while surrounded by the same circle of advisors of his father and brother.

In the end, Mr. Bush’s announcement shows us that actions speak louder than words, and that he offers nothing but empty words in contrast to candidates like Hillary Clinton. In Mrs. Clinton’s recent speech, where she shared a deeply personal story about her mother’s difficult childhood, the ex-Secretary of State shows us that her experience resonates much deeper with ours, and that, therefore, makes her our best option to advance the interests of our community in both words and actions.

This article originally appeared in Spanish in the Washington Hispanic.