From time to time, Alexis and I go to fundraisers or parties for Republican congressman Todd Rokita. He's from Munster and he went to high school with my little sister Jennifer who's nine years younger than me, and somehow we've kinda hit it off with Todd over the years so we get invited to his shindigs when he comes to town. We're in radio, remember, so it's not like we have a ton of dough to write big checks like most of the old white guys who come to these things. But we do own the local radio station and to some people that counts for something.
If you're a radio guy or gal like Alexis and me, and you don't just own it but you talk on the radio too, then you know that you gotta have your finger on the pulse of what's happening around you. Politically, culturally, entertainment-wise, business-wise, sports, education, you name it. And sometimes part of the reason you go places is that you just want to understand things. It's hard to explain, but if you gotta talk on the radio for four hours, you better have a handle on what's going on. Otherwise you don't sound (here it comes) genuine.
That is, in the end, the only thing I can think of when someone asks - so what is it you try to be on the radio?
To be the best genuine you can be, you gotta soak up what's going on around you. And so it goes at the Todd Rokita fundraisers for the past decade. You look around the room and there's mostly rich white guys, with a few well-dressed (white) wives hanging around, along with maybe a couple of Middle Eastern or Asian doctors, without their wives. Not one time do I remember another Mexican other than my lawyer wife in her high heels and sassy attitude. (She once passionately lectured Rokita about why Mexicans don't vote Republican. Todd listened intently, slowly rubbing his Howdy Doody chin...).
Boy, was there a tectonic shift in attitudes amongst Republicans as Jeb Bush junior came to town. He actually came to the home of a nationally-respected Republican fundraiser, the same home we've been to before for Rokita stuff, and the same home where every time before it had been almost exclusively rich old white guys. Tonight, it was Mexicans and more Mexicans, with a few Puerto Ricans mixed in for the large earrings effect, and even a Cuban or two. Crazy.
Now I won't call the Hispanics out by name in that many are longtime Democrats. Just suffice it to say that one astute political observer asked - is this a Democrat or Republican event? Make no mistake about it - what once was a home where my wife the lone Mexican didn't feel all that comfortable had turned in to a quinciniera. I'm not kidding. There were that many Mexicans.
The crowd was still, I would say, still more than 50% white, but not by much. And even then, it was a lot of white women and not just stodgy old men. It was a complete sea change. What once was white is now half brown... and kinda female.
This isn't something I expected. We had to park a full block away, and when we turned the corner and there were all these Mexicans standing in driveway, I thought we had the wrong house.
What the f**k? I said, kinda loud.
Soon after we arrived, Jeb Bush Jr. started talking. I remembered all the sudden that he's half-Hispanic, that the older Jeb Bush married a Mexican or something. And that's when it hit me. Republicans are for real. They really think they can win back the presidency by attracting, are you ready for this, Hispanics. I saw it with my own eyes. A half-Hispanic Bush talking to a half-Hispanic crowd at the home of a well-known Republican fundraiser in the well-to-do gated community of Briar Ridge. I saw it with my own eyes, and that's why I'm the bomb on the radio. I've got my finger on the pulse of the Region. Just ask me, I'll tell you.
A little side note... I'm sitting there listening to the half-Hispanic Jeb Bush answering questions from full Hispanics about the border, immigration reform, education spending and more... and I'm trying to figure out who Jeb Bush the younger looks like. And it dawns on me. Remember that old Rodney Dangerfield movie "Back to School?" Jeb Bush looks like Rodney Dangerfield's son in that movie. Do it. Put their pictures side-by-side and tell I'm not spot on about this.