Browning Up the Legislature: Your Guide to Latinos in the New Congress

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This week has been nothing but bad news for the legislative branch. Charges of petty bickering and ideological inflexibility have dogged the senators and congressmen of what is now the lowest-rated branch in the government. But not all is bad! This past election has yielded some great news; the results have shown that Hispanics (among others) are increasingly crucial to victory. Not only that, but Hispanics are browning up the legislature as never before. We at Remezcla have compiled a listing of newcomers to the Congress. Some are wildly talented and educated. Others have more of a salt of the earth flavor. But all share one thing in common: They have a drea… nope, they are being swept into power at the worst time imaginable. Aside from that, these Freshman have only increased the number of Latin politicians in Congress. On the other hand, a certain group from the House is just fucking up big time when it comes to actually doing stuff. Those bastards! But at least we can proudly say that some of them will be our bastards!

1) Ted Cruz (R) TX, Junior Senator

The Tea Party has been maligned since day one for good reason. Charges of racism, a platform that makes no sense and general nastiness from the more extreme elements of the umbrella group have not done much to attract Hispanics. But a lone wolf did appear. Ted Cruz is of partly Cuban descent and has been active in the Republican Party long before the election. What makes him stand out is not his heritage but his credentials. He is a Princeton and Harvard Law School alum. He was a law clerk in the Supreme Court. He has used this wealth of knowledge and talent to defend the 2nd Amendment and to defend the legality of prayer in public schools. OK, so he’s not exactly my cup of tea. But you have to admit, this is a guy who is already a key player in the party. Also, he really, really, really, hates Big Government.

2) Tony Cardenas (D) Representative, CA, 29th Congressional District

Tony Cardenas is not a newcomer to politics; he has been active in California for years. His origins are humble in nature; he grew up in a poor migrant family in Pacoima. Later on, he would help his father with his gardening business. Ok, fine, this is already reading like a cheesy inspirational story but it’s all true! In fact, he succeeded so hard in school and in face-fucking life that the people of California had no choice but to send him to D.C. It was the equivalent of a high scoring player being (somehow) barred from playing at a local park because he/she was just too damn good to stay local. Cardenas has endeared himself to Hispanics due to his sympathy towards the plight of undocumented people. At the same time, due to his past, he is a pro-business politician which doesn’t make him a likely guest at OWS.

3) Raul Ruiz (D) Representative, CA, 36th Congressional District

If anybody can be awarded the 2012 Needless Showoff Award (our creation) it would doubtlessly be awarded to Raul Ruiz. He has attained 3 graduate degrees, all from Harvard. He is an ER doctor, a humanitarian and a politician. Also, he is unapologetically vocal about his views. He has participated in a Thanksgiving Day protest that resulted in him being arrested for disorderly conduct. He has attacked his opponent, Republican Mary Bono Mack as being insensitive towards the needs of Hispanics. She responded by eloquently refuting his claims and spoke of the need to move away from divisive identity politics. Nah, just joshing! Mack responded by insinuating that Ruiz was a radical and possibly a traitor. It all worked in the end when Mack was duly voted out of Congress. Keep an eye on this crazy cat.

4) Juan Vargas (D) CA 51st Congressional District

Again with the “by our bootstraps” stories but it keeps happening. Vargas was born the son of poor farmers in National City in California. Like the previous two entries, Vargas went on to higher education. He volunteered to aid civilians in El Salvador’s brutal civil war. Again with the holier than thou stories! But these politicos are just too goddamn amazing for mere mortals. Then he became a lawyer. Unlike Ruiz, he was active in state politics for a long time and in 2012, he defeated Republican challenger Michael Crimmins in an election that was a foregone conclusion. The district is right next to Mexico and the population is what you’d expect. But not all was rosy. Vargas has been accused of offering bribes to a would-be Democrat competitor to throw in the towel. But the question remains, will he be pragmatic enough to defy ideological calls to arms or will he obey his party to the letter?

5) Joe Garcia (D) FL 26th Congressional District

The Cubanos have made a name for themselves as stalwarts of the Republican Party and they remain a key demographic. But like Bob Dylan sang, the times are a-changing. Joe Garcia is a Cuban-American who was born in Miami since his parents didn’t want to look at a bearded guy who never wears anything but fatigues. He, just like everyone else, has risen through the ranks and became a lawyer. He later worked for the Obama Administration. Garcia beat Republican, David Rivera due to good old redistricting. Finally, a time when it works in our favor! Also, Rivera has been less than scrupulous which made for good TV fodder. The result is that a Latino Democrat will represent South Florida for the first time.

6) Joaquin Castro (D) TX 20th Congressional District

As the identical twin of (now) famous San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, he has similar ambitions and he is just as qualified. Aside from a presumed sibling rivalry, Castro got into politics because he is just as big as a dreamer as his brother. Castro’s mom was the inspiration and soon enough he was serving in the state legislature by 2002. But his brother’s keynote speech in the 2012 DNC put the family name out there, kind of like a Mexican version of JFK and RFK. By the time the election rolled around, Castro trounced his opponent and is now a congressman. He has been assigned to the House Armed Services Committee. But it just gets better. He was made the president of the Democrat Freshman class just yesterday! This is yet another sign that people will expect him to be a big player. He along with his brother should be watched; who knows what the future leads.

7) Filemon Vela Jr. (D) TX 34th Congressional District

Vela grew up in Brownsville. His father was a judge so that right there tells you his life was pretty awesome. In fact, he comes from a political dynasty of sorts so that kinda narrows down his choices in a way. Aside from that, his career trajectory has been predictably impressive; he like almost every freaking person here is a lawyer. Vela squared off against a fellow Hispanic, Jessica Puente Bradshaw. The differences were glaring and in a reversal of roles, it was the Republican who grew up poor but managed to succeed, but the result was a victory for Vela. Since his district was set up with the godsend that is redistricting, Vela was handed an easy win.

The few, the proud and the soon to be hated have hailed from places where it’s pretty easy to spot us.
As the pride in their wins slowly but surely dies down, we can only look at them with pride as we scream
at the TV over yet another cop-out.

The few, the proud and the soon to be hated have hailed from places where it’s pretty easy to spot us. As the pride in their wins slowly but surely dies down, we can only look at them with pride as we scream at the TV over yet another cop-out.