As I pointed out in the article right before this one—“Does Ted Cruz Know that Half of Faux News is From NY?”—the Republicans are looking less and less like the hillbillies they cater to. In fact, if they weren’t so desperate to appeal to Evangelical zealots and rural xenophobia, they might note that they (technically) have a more racially diverse offering than the Democrats do. And it’s a little funny that they keep banging on about the horrors of immigration and why Obama’s not “pure” American enough to be president since…
–Obviously, Ted Cruz was born in Canada as the son of a Cuban immigrant. He had dual citizenship until a year before he started running for President.
–Donald Trump’s mother is from Scotland.
–Bobby Jindal’s parents are Indian immigrants.
–Marco Rubio’s parents are Cuban immigrants. Neither was a citizen at the time of his birth.
–John Kasich mentioned that all of his grandparents were immigrants from Croatia or Czech ancestry, and his grandmother barely spoke a word of English. He has self-described himself as a “Croatian and Czech.”
–Chris Christie’s mother is Sicilian. And obviously New Jersey isn’t Middle America.
–George Pataki’s grandparents are immigrants from Austria-Hungary or Italy.
–And even beloved social conservative Rick Santorum’s father is an Italian immigrant who came to America when he was 7.
Even a 100% American candidate like Ben Carson is black and from inner-city Detroit, which is not exactly what anyone would describe as “Middle America.”
The closest thing to a true hillbilly in the GOP presidential race is Mike Huckabee, and even he has spent roughly the last eight years (when he last ran for president) in NYC filming a Faux News TV show “Huckabee” and recording a separate syndicated radio show “The Huckabee Report.” And he has never been higher than 7th in the polls—and falling every day—with his presidential run seeming more like an opportunity to build a bigger media platform than anything close to a real shot. More typically “Bubba-ish” candidates like Rick Perry and Scott Walker were the first ones to drop out of the race.
For all intensive purposes, the face of WASP America may be Jeb Bush, even though he has not really wanted the label, marrying a Mexican immigrant (Columba Bush), living in Caracas, Venezuela for a time, and repeatedly championing immigration reform. His brother George W. Bush may be the last “redneck president” although his Texan swagger was always suspicious as he was born in Connecticut to one of the most powerful political dynasties ever in American politics, a future president’s son and grandson to a senator, Prescott Bush. To say Bush’s upbringing is a little different than most rural Americans is to put it mildly.
All of this is to say that Republicans seem to be increasingly reliant on rural, Middle American voters even as they themselves are—increasingly—not from that background. And it’s more than a little strange that the loudest anti-immigrant voices in the party are the grandchildren of immigrants, the children of immigrants, or sometimes even immigrants themselves.