This week’s reading brought to mind Republican Senator from Florida, Marco Rubio. Rubio recently spoke on the immigration issue and apparently gave a ‘show.’ This article that I read from The Washington Post in a way gave me an example of the topic in which we have been discussing this whole week, the performance of politician. Even the reporter’s writing kind of set a performance of Rubio in the article.
The article states at the beginning…
“The Republican senator from Florida clasped his hands in front, then in back, then in front again. He poked his tongue into his cheek, he clenched his jaw, and he licked his lips. He fiddled with his suit-jacket button once, then again, then a third time. He rubbed his fingers together, then interlocked them.”
How else could someone had known that Rubio was nervous right before giving his speech if it wasn’t for the media? In reality these politicians are giving a press conference and basically saying to the media the message they want the public to know about the bipartisan immigration plan. Thus, through their speeches politicians are able to give a performance of someone they think the public wants in office and their performances are then told on a variety of different media platforms.
In Jeffrey C. Alexander’s The Performance of Politics, he talks about that when politicians struggle to achieve a political goal they try to present themselves as appealing as possible to the public. This is tied to the idea that politicians are basically ‘celebrities’ because so much of government is done through the media in today’s society. Celebrities have an image to uphold and so do politicians. Everything that they say or do is being watched and judged by the public.
Although his speech sounds very rehearsed Rubio shows that he was passionate about the issue in which he authenticates through his performance. He says that, “he’s not new to the issue in terms of his life.” He then goes on to say that he knows of many people who are immigrants and that he ‘understands’ what they’re going through. Thus, he is sympathizing with the people who are immigrants because of the fact that Rubio’s parents emigrated from Cuba in 1956 and didn’t become citizen until years later. Also, he says that there are 11 million people in America that are undocumented and that they’re all here pursuing the ‘American Dream.’ Moreover, his whole speech performance shows him to be a very understanding politician that is on the side of the people in America who are immigrants.
He continues to authenticate his performance because he even gives speech in Spanish after he says it in English, reassuring the image that he has put out into the media as a Cuban American politician. Also, that he can in fact relate to those 11 million people in America who are undocumented because his parents were once a part of that statistic.
Even in Alexander’s book he argues that Hilary Clinton failed to be authentic and that’s the reason why she didn’t win in the primaries. The fact that she cried when she when discussing an issue apparently wasn’t genuine to the public. Unlike Marco Rubio, she couldn’t really identify with the public because she came from a wealthy family and wasn’t going to gain those minority votes through her speeches. These were the votes that played a big part of President Barack Obama’s election in 2008. Thus, proving that the performance of a politician during a speech plays a big role when it comes to gaining votes and the image of the politician to the public. Hilary is now perceived as a fake or inauthentic politician.
Furthermore, Rubio’s reason for taking a stand on the issue could be to win those Latino votes if he was planning to run for president in 2016. Or, it could be that he Republican party wanted support from minorities on the issue. Who knows why? But, the fact that Marco Rubio does have a stand on the issue was a smart strategy move from the Republican Party. Basically, the party gave the public someone to identify with even though it was through his speech performance. Or in other words, they were giving a face to the issue, like Suzanna Hupp is for gun control.
If you would like to see Marco Rubio’s speech to better understand my point on political performance the video is below…