Florida Senator Marco Rubio was featured in a February 2013 cover of TIME Magazine for his influential role in the GOP on immigration. (Photo/Time Magazine)

Opinion: Senator Rubio, don’t get cold feet on immigration

Some leaders are born, and some are made. Apparently, Senator Marco Rubio is neither and that’s too bad.

Young, vibrant, photogenic, and with a unique capacity to disarm folks on the right with their own words, Senator Rubio represents the potential for bridging the past with the future at a time the Republican Party is in desperate need of changing their nightly programs from Ozzie and Harriet to Modern Family.

After Mitt Romney so epically failed to expand the ever-shrinking tent of the GOP, many in the party felt Rubio’s sweetheart charisma and sharp speeches in front of Republican audiences made him a natural favorite for ascendance to 2016.

As a Latino, he was also looked to by the GOP to address immigration reform, and perhaps it was naïve to think he wouldn’t quickly burn his political capital with the Tea Party by promoting a comprehensive plan. But burn it did, and out of the ashes rose a new favorite among the Tea Party, Senator Ted Cruz.

And now Senator Rubio is against the comprehensive reform he was once for. Say what you want about Senator Cruz, but the man has conviction and is willing to take chances out of principle, even if those principles come with a 24 billion dollar price tag.

That’s someone you want to go into battle with, and someone folks will think twice about going into battle against. As much as I think Ted Cruz is flawed, leadership requires the vision to transcend reality, and while I think Ted Cruz’ vision for America is a tragic one, taking that vision into the marketplace of ideas is what democracy is all about.

But Marco Rubio is now getting cold feet, citing reality as his reason for turning his back on the Latino community he once showed promise to help against the shark infested tank of the GOP.

The reality may be that the GOP-led House of Representatives will never pass comprehensive immigration reform, but some battles are worth losing. Latinos who are still without a singular personality they can call a leader have been waiting for someone to take a chance on them, to put some of their own skin on the line for them.

Ted Cruz did it for the Tea Party, and while he got his behind handed to him, his band of warriors appreciated the effort.

With a tattered reputation among the Tea Party faithful because of his immigration efforts, he has little to gain by flip-flopping on his efforts to make peace with them. Whatever sense hopeful Latinos and moderate Republicans had that Marco Rubio might have what it takes to repair the damaged brand of the GOP with a country that wants comprehensive immigration reform has been spoiled.

Perhaps Senator Rubio has a better sense of how to solve this issue. Some secret nobody but him knows. But the reality is his party needs a reality check. The country is changing; never to return to whatever fantasyland Ted Cruz is spoon-feeding the Tea Party. Lead, follow, or get out of the way, Senator Rubio. Because right now, you’re just in the way.

Opinion: Senator Rubio, dont get cold feet on immigration stephen nuno nbc final e1370610376199 politics NBC Latino News

Stephen A. Nuño, Ph.D., NBC Latino contributor and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Politics and International Affairs at Northern Arizona University. He is currently writing a book on Republican outreach into the Latino Community.

%d bloggers like this: