Right now, the GOP is thirsting to get Pitbull, internationally renowned rapper and showman, on their team. Republican strategists and politicians rightly assume that if Mr. Worldwide were on their side, they would have at least a fighting chance at influencing the highly coveted Latino vote, particularly since he is a Cuban-American from Florida, a reliably contentious swing state where more Latinos are more conservative than we are anywhere else in the country. Right. I'ma need the Republicans to get off Pitbull's dick.
On Monday, BuzzFeed's Adrian Carrasquillo reported that key Republican influencers are being very vocal about trying to recruit Pitbull (aka Armando Christian Pérez). You thought Miami declaring January 15th Pitbull Day was just a nice thing honoring a hometown hero? Sure, but it was also orchestrated by Florida Governor Rick Scott and Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado, top conservative figures in the state, in a party that knows very well how important Latinos will be for the 2016 election. GOP strategist Ana Navarro told BuzzFeed, "I saw Armando at a party in Miami the other night and immediately started selling him on Jeb. It'd be professional negligence not to. Armando is Mr. 305 and well, that's Jeb's area code, too."
In short, Republicans know they poll poorly with Latinos, they know that Latinos historically like probable Dem frontrunner Hillary Clinton, and they're looking for a magic bullet to get us all on board with their program, even though that program is quite often detrimental to our quality of life in this great country. Pitbull is a populist, he's profoundly charismatic, and is one of the most recognizable Latino names in the arts and on the charts (which are no doubt partially the reasons Obama got Pit to stump for him in 2008). I have personally made several pleas for Pit to involve himself in politics, run for office one day. Of course Republicans want him. But do they really know him?
The fun-loving, party-throwing goodtime guy Pitbull America knows and loves today is not the Pitbull who has always been. In the beginning of his career, which spans a decade and a half, he always possessed the party genes—who can forget early hits like "Culo" and "Toma"—but he also had his own brand of politics in his blood. On his 2006 album El Mariel, named after the controversial Cuban boatlift, he included songs about how poverty lead to slinging cocaine ("Rock Bottom"). On "Blood Is Thicker Than Water," he rapped a verse seemingly in protest of the Iraq War:
Blood is thicker than water, at least they say it is
Until the Feds step in that's just the way it is
Most of these fools are characters
Men with no character, welcome to America
Where we fight for freedom
If it ain't about oil then we don't need them, ain't that the truth?
Also in 2006, Pitbull helped create "Nuestro Himno" with Wyclef Jean, a Spanish-language version of the National Anthem that... rankled Republicans at the time, to say the least. It was a track in solidarity with the year's copious immigration protests (including 100,000 marching in Chicago), and the disdain some non-Latinos held for some recent Latino immigrants (namely: the flags and languages of their birth countries). Pit's short verse, an ad-lib really, translates roughly to "My people fight here, and only time can break our chains." Partly in response, leading Senate Republicans—still-sitting Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander, along with Bill Frist, Mitch McConnell, Pat Roberts, Jim Bunning, and Ted Stevens—then introduced a bill to allow the Star-Spangled Banner to be sung only in English. Surely to their chagrin, the song lives on in the great halls of YouTube:
In 2011, Pitbull told The Guardian that he wouldn't perform in Cuba until Castro was out—a sentiment aligned with very many Cuban immigrants to Florida, who tend to skew conservative—see also 2005's slamming Free Cuba anthem "Ya Se Acabo." In tandem with that, he is also vocal about how he very much dislikes the way immigrants are treated in the United States:
"I know everything in life has to have boundaries, rules and regulations. I agree with that. I don't agree when the USA, that lives by a constitution, says, OK, just because you look this way, we're going to ask you for your documentation, or you gotta go back to your country. The Arizona law is like we took 10 steps back. I'm watching all the refugees entering Italy from Libya, too, and all the things going down in Sri Lanka – when I watch these different forms of migration, I relate to it, because my family did the same."
The Guardian also points out that Pit's 2010 song "Orgullo" is an immigrant solidarity anthem. It is also very specifically about "illegales," particularly those who cross bodies of water to arrive in the United States. On that, he raps:
Lagrimas, sudor y sangre
Esto es para los Mexicanos que estan crusando El Rio Grande
Esto es para los Dominicanos tirandose al canal de La Mona
Esto es para los Cubanos nadando noventa millas para llegar a La Yuma
Dios dale ayuda
Pitbull's entire career has been bilingual—even his more recent, super-mainstream pop songs have slyly slipped Spanglish onto major corporate radio—a coup that makes album titles like Globalization and Global Warming less absurd than vehemently shrewd. He is literally taking the American Latino diaspora, in all our varied complexities and quirks, to the world. Of course the Republicans want him—but the stronger their thirst, the more they need to be reminded that he is not at all the gleaming Latino ambassador in a box they want him to be (and, concurrently, that they seem to want us to be). It's going to take a lot more than a pretty face and a friendly smile for most American Latino voters to believe the Republican party gives two fucks about our issues and concerns when we're not at the ballot box.
Also shrewd was Pitbull's response to the GOP, at Buzzfeed, via a statement:
"I'm not here to be part of any political party," Pitbull said in a statement. "I'm here to bring political parties to my party because they can't, they won't they never will, stop the Pitbull party, Dale!"
There's your stump speech.
Image via Getty