Why Bill Richardson is correct
Much is being made of Bill Richardson’s candid statement that Texas Senator Ted Cruz, a conservative and TEA Party favorite, shouldn’t be “defined as an Hispanic” — his positions on many issues having deviated, by Richardson’s lights, from the standard (and ascendant) identity narrative for “Hispanic authenticity,” which creates in Cruz a man of Hispanic heritage and blood who, because his politics don’t follow a particular progressive policy prescription, can’t claim a connection to the identity group.
And Richardson is correct. Being “Hispanic,” while initially created as a group designation by Nixon for purposes of separating out a particular cultural and ethnic voter bloc, has come to mean something else with respect to politics, much as has being “black” or being a woman: from the perspective of the left, the personal is the political, and so if the personal narrative of an individual claiming group kinship doesn’t match the political identity, itself formed and promoted by self-styled ethnic or gender or cultural group leaders who have created from disparate individuals a collective that is to operate under a specific group narrative (for purely political purposes), s/he is bracketed, labeled inauthentic, or at the very least damaged, suffering from the kind of false consciousness that prevents her or him from acting in their own best interests, which are cagily conflated with the political interests of the groups and their leaders.
And these interests are always political group interests — advocating for special dispensation, for recognized historical and contemporary victimhood, for protected class status. That is, collectivist identity politics, the bailiwick of the left.
Which is why while Ted Cruz is of Hispanic origin, he shouldn’t be “defined as an Hispanic” — “Hispanic” itself, in the realm of government and popular culture, having come to mean not simply someone of a specific blood line or ethnic and cultural background, but rather one who can lay whatever tentative claim to that blood line or ethnic and cultural background who then agrees to adopt and work within the group identity as defined by the ascendant narrative, itself generally a product of a vocal collectivism, a claim to official representative status, that squeezes out as inauthentic those who break with the officially sanctioned parameters for authenticity made manifest in the policy objectives of the progressives who work through identity group pressures to influence legislation and the courts.
And we see this everywhere: conservative blacks aren’t really blacks, but rather whites in black face; conservative women are throwbacks, weak-willed pleasers suffering from false consciousness, “real” women only in the physical sense, while their political positions mark them as under the dominion of the patriarchy; and conservative Hispanics aren’t really Hispanic. Rather, they are outliers, in Richardson’s formulation denied the right to “define” themselves in accordance with the group because to define oneself in accordance with the ethnic group requires that one adopt the official political narrative of that ethnic group, which is what for the left is what comes to define them.
The politics is the personal, to spin the equation around. And those who don’t lay claim to the politics lose the right to attach themselves to the group, and become individuals, outliers, outcasts, inauthentic and in many ways “race traitors.”
And that’s a good thing.
Ted Cruz needn’t give up his heritage to be ostracized from the political designation “Hispanic.” He needs only think for himself.
Far from an insult, Cruz is being complimented, though Richardson, a collectivist who believes in mob coercion and homogeneous identity markers — that is, demanded intellectual and political conformity — doesn’t recognize that he is complimented Cruz, who can lay claim to the very individualism that lies at the heart of our founding ideals.
Cruz, therefore, is being attacked for being the kind of American the Founders and Framers envisioned a free people producing and nurturing. And as such, he provides a stark contrast to the expectations of lockstep political sameness required by the left on its march to create Utopia.
That’s a good thing. And Cruz should celebrate his differences. He is an Hispanic in the sense that he shares blood with the groups typically falling under that label. But he isn’t “Hispanic” in the contemporary sense of the word, which privileges fidelity to a given cultural narrative formed as the basis for pushing a progressive collectivist agenda.