Recently, the McAllen Monitor Editorial Board seemed to criticize LUPE (La Unión del Pueblo Entero) for stating that they would refuse to meet with U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas (on his own terms), when he comes to participate in McAllen’s Fourth of July Parade.
I am in agreement with the McAllen Monitor that lines of communication between our politicians and the people must be kept open, however I think the Monitor missed a very important point.
Communication as well as compromise is a two-way street, and Senator Cruz has never demonstrated that he has the ability to listen or compromise with the people of South Texas. In fact, it is the Senator who has always maintained a “my way or the highway” attitude that the editorial board correctly characterizes as something that stands in the way of meaningful change.
I am all for building bridges of communication. The problem is that the Senator wants to build a wall. Not only a physical wall, but also a political wall keeping out all opinions that are not aligned with his far-right philosophy. The word compromise does not appear in his vocabulary. Indeed, our Senator is famous for never compromising his beliefs or his political agenda.
Our community leaders have constantly tried to have a dialogue with Senator Cruz but most folks in the Rio Grande Valley know of his history of anti-immigrant and anti-Hispanic legislative policies in Congress, even though Cruz is a Canadian immigrant and the son of a Cuban immigrant father who fled the Communist revolution.
The fact of the matter is that Cruz has done nothing of significance for McAllen and South Texas as a U.S. Senator.
Instead, the few times he does come to our area, it is for the purpose of grandstanding for the national news media, and at the expense of the true image of the Valley as an economic engine, cultural powerhouse, and strategic entry for billions of dollars of commerce and tourism for the United States.
He knowingly inflames prejudice against Hispanics portraying the Valley as being overwhelmed by undesirable hordes of Latin American refugees. The Republican senator supports building a border wall against Mexico, whose consumers are the economic life blood of McAllen. He gives the rest of the nation the wrong idea that there are military battles on Valley streets between Mexican government forces and drug cartels.
As I write this article, Cruz has announced he supports deep cuts to Medicaid for Texas children, people with disabilities, seniors, including veterans, and pregnant women – with defenseless children being the largest beneficiaries of Medicaid. These are the very people the leadership of LUPE has dedicated their lives to make their voices and their plight heard.
Having served three terms in the Texas Legislature, I am well acquainted with the political base that elected Cruz, and their anti-Mexican American political views.
Cruz’s xenophobic and racist rhetoric isn’t a far cry from Tea Party politicians like the Texas Lt. Governor or the extreme right wing of the Texas Republican legislature.
I know that we need to keep talking with Tea Party leaders like Senator Cruz, and I do it every day in the Texas Legislature. But, when will they compromise with us? When will they meet us in the middle? There comes a time when people get tired of talking to themselves! There comes a time when people get tired of calling only to get a busy signal. That time often gives rise to protest, and marching so that their cries for help no longer fall on deaf ears.
The reality is that Cruz treats any votes outside the right-wing members of the Republican Party as meaningless, instead always favoring with his political rhetoric the extremists in Texas who support prejudice and discrimination against minority and immigrant populations.
There is no invitation that can remedy the fact that Cruz does not understand our people, our culture, and our way of life. The idea that having him in a parade would encourage him to somehow do what’s best for the Rio Grande Valley is nothing short of foolhardy optimism.
I invite Senator Cruz to come down the Rio Grande Valley, but I hope he does so with an open-heart and with the ability to finally listen, and compromise with all of his constituents in Texas, not just visit when it’s election time.
Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above guest column has been provided courtesy of Alex Rios.