‘I look like them’ (but I’m better)

Tito MunozBy Tito A. Munoz
Guest Post

Stressing outreach as a measure for candidate qualification has become a new preoccupation for some. Why?

The real question is: who is the best qualified candidate for the job of Sully District Supervisor on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors? A question which has nothing to do with ethnicity and everything to do with knowledge, tenacity and ability. But for the sake of argument, because the subject’s been raised, let’s look at what benefit skin tone actually has in helping attract new participation in the Republican Party. The fact is it takes more than “looking like them,” a term one candidate is fond of using. Growing participation and membership takes relating on a basic level and not seeing them as “them.”

The candidate who uses these words says he relates to Hispanics, yet sees himself as different, or better than them.

In the Fairfax Free Citizen blog, John Guevara, one of three candidates for the Sully Supervisor’s position reflects the view that his parents, who came illegally in 1970, are different from the Hispanics who are here as recent immigrants today (see Luis Gutierrez Doesn’t Speak For Me).

Guevara fails to acknowledge, or perhaps he does not know, that the illegal immigrants who came in 1970 had access to jobs even prior to the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, when controls were tightened on illegals working and Amnesty also occurred. In 1970 there was no E-Verify system as there is today and the illegal immigrants could find work and presumably could feed their children with that work. Proudly Guevara states his parents were “law abiding” and didn’t need welfare, comparing them to others waiting for amnesty today that will require “no prerequisite for amnesty.” The hypocrisy here is that nobody can be law abiding and simultaneously illegal. His parents were illegal in 1970, but able to work and pay taxes. Those here today that he compares them to would love to be able to do the same, but they don’t have the societal circumstances that existed then when everyone worked and the government looked the other way.

At a Sully District forum on March 31st, Guevara was asked this question, “If elected, what would you do to alleviate the clusters of day laborers at the Centreville Library?” He never answered the question, but gave a rambling explanation about day laborers and ended with the explanation that the day laborers needed to hear from him because he looks like them, and coming from him his message would “resonate.”

His exact quote is not available because his campaign demanded that the debate not be recorded, but that’s essentially what he said. The essence of his rambling answer was the two other candidates couldn’t address the day laborer issue because they’re white. He then proceeded to talk about imparting a “message” to “them,” that would “resonate.”

In a Washington Post article he also talks about day laborers and stereotypes the Hispanics by stating, “My understanding is the center is working and that’s a good thing, but at the same time, it does pose an issue, because the real concern is what we are doing in terms of being a magnet for illegal immigration.” How does he know the laborers are illegal? By what measure did he judge their legal status? Is stereotyping an effective part of “Outreach?” (See Busy day laborer office in Centreville doesn’t keep all workers off the corner).

Guevara also hypocritically uses the distasteful term anchor babies in his desired view of immigration law regarding deportation in the same Fairfax Free Citizen piece:

“… if the court finds you unfit for legalization, then you will be deported; if you are found to be deportable and had children born (anchor babies) in the United States while in illegal status then you must make provisions for such children to be cared for by qualified legal residents or they will be deported, too.”

Would Guevara have appreciated the same standard he is spouting here? Would he accept that for his parents or for himself as an American-born child to be potentially “cared for by qualified legal residents” or deported? The use of this term (his words, “anchor babies”) is unsettling coming from a man who claims to be compassionate, a man whose own parents came illegally. Could Guevara explain how his position on deporting American children today would be kind, plausible or acceptable now or for himself when he was a child?

Guevara vows he can bring people to the polls who might otherwise not come, “a wide and diverse electorate.” The irony is Guevara has not voted in primaries. As a matter of public record, Guevara has not voted in a primary these past four years. Clearly he either had difficulty or was apathetic about getting himself to the polls and his desire to bring others might be over-stated. Guevara also did not join the Fairfax County Republican Committee until 2014 after he decided to run for office. He had no membership in the FCRC until he needed it as a tool for the launch of his own candidacy.

Beyond making standard limited government statements, Guevara says little regarding the job of public policy and good governance as a Supervisor. Although it is not apparent where he stands on matters of substance, it is apparent and known who he stands with. One person he stands with is his supporter and photographer Greg Letiecq, talented yet notorious and renowned for an unusual form of “outreach.”

Letiecq, the founder of “Help Save Manassas,” is known for his vigilante activities, among them harassing day laborers in Prince William County outside of 7-Elevens and assuming they were all illegal. (Are we seeing a theme here?) The antics of Letiecq and his cohorts during the 2007 Immigration crackdown had a residual effect of Hispanic flight from Prince William County, both LEGAL and illegal that will never be forgotten. This alienated American voters of Hispanic descent from the Republican Party, not only locally in Prince William County, but in other areas also as local politicians sought to use the crackdown publicity for political advancement. If Guevara thinks Greg Letiecq is good for his campaign or good for “outreach,” he is misguided. If you watch this video you will understand why.

Guevara’s friend Letiecq perceives his personal battle partly of “preventing the pollution of our longstanding cultural traditions with pagan harvest rituals from Mexico in our Christmas celebrations,” stating, “we must engage in the struggle.” He has referred to Hispanics in very negative terms, often as parasites. When Guevara appears with Letiecq at his side, it definitely does not say “Outreach” to new voters from the Hispanic community or to any other new people that Republicans are trying to attract.

The job of appealing to all voters and growing the ranks of Republican Party membership during this local Sully election and others needs to be done by all candidates regardless of their own ethnicity. The message all Republican candidates deliver, if they are true to the Creed, comes from a common background that defies ethnicity and is not contingent on where they came from or what they look like.

It is a message of American Exceptionalism that is shared by all who came as immigrants or were born to generations of immigrants, whether they came in 1970, 1890, or yesterday. It makes no difference when they came. They came for prosperity, for hope and to pursue the American Dream and to be one of us, not a “them.” The message is not conditioned on the color of the messenger or on the color of the recipient of the message. It is not the color of your skin that matters, Mr. Guevara, or what the other candidates look like. It is not your skin or ethnicity that matters. It is your understanding of these words, and with that understanding a true belief that you and your parents are no better or different than anyone else. We are all blessed to be part of this great American Dream:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Tito A. Munoz is a Republican business owner who lives with his wife in Prince William County, Virginia, and is familiar for passionately stating, “I was born in Colombia, but I was MADE in the USA!” He served as the 11th District representative on the VA Board of Housing and Community Development from 2010-2014, appointed by Governor Bob McDonnell.

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