Identity issues and the Texas Senate race

SAN DIEGO – Once again, the eyes of the nation are upon Texas. This time, our gaze is fixed on a bizarre Senate race where neither of the candidates appears comfortable enough in his own skin to go by his given name.

Republican incumbent Rafael Cruz prefers to go by “Ted,” while the Democratic challenger Robert Francis O’Rourke wants you to call him “Beto.”

In some states, politicians are defined by where they stand on issues. In Texas, the Senate candidates appear to be struggling with identity issues.

People in the Lone Star State like to say, “Don’t mess with Texas.” But, as someone who lived in Dallas for five years, I have to wonder: Why are these two Texans so messed up?

Cruz explained in his 2015 autobiography that he went with “Ted” because “Rafael” often became “Felito” and the kids he grew up with teased him over the nickname. His mom suggested other variations, and he settled on Ted – which is a long way from Rafael.

The road from “Robert” to “Beto” is shorter, but still – in the case of O’Rourke – not exactly a direct route.

The legend – which I’ve heard often from Latino Democrats – is that the evolution was organic. A bunch of Latino friends who grew up with O’Rourke in El Paso must have taken a liking to him and made him an honorary Mexican. They dubbed him “Beto.” It had nothing to do with politics, or a cynical attempt to trick Latinos into thinking he was one of them.

Still, I have to admit, I like the fairy tale that O’Rourke’s Latino supporters are spreading about how he supposedly “became Latino” by growing up around Latinos. Let’s call that “LBO” – Latino by Osmosis.

I want in. I love the Armenian people. I was raised near one of the Armenian capitals of the United States: Fresno, California. Under Beto’s law, I could be “ABO” – Armenian by Osmosis. But wait. I also respect the Armenian people. And saying that growing up around them made me one of them would be presumptuous – and disrespectful.

Meanwhile, Democrats have long accused Cruz of “trying to be white.” Mexicans-Americans like to poke him for leaving “Rafael” behind and opting for an Anglicized alternative like “Ted.”

That’s how we roll. Mexican-Americans are always waiting for one of our own to disappoint us, betray us, or sell us out. And those of us who are plagued with insecurities tend to suspect that some in our tribe would like to be white.

I myself have often quipped that I’d like to be reincarnated as a white male because I’m tired of working so hard. Besides, I’m eager to see what’s beyond the golden door and find out what privilege tastes like.

Sadly, there aren’t enough couches in the entire Southwest to let all those Mexican-Americans who are confused about identity sort through our issues. They affect how we see ourselves – and everyone else.

And speaking of privilege, O’Rourke – who is being treated like a rock star by liberals in Hollywood and the left-leaning East Coast media – has a free pass on the issue of cultural appropriation.

While all this is going on, liberal media elites felt the urge to register their outrage about “blackface” after Megyn Kelly said that she didn’t see a problem with the racist concept growing up. Kelly may soon see her way to the unemployment line, as her high-paying job at NBC News appears to be in jeopardy.

Liberals baffle me. They’re dumbfounded that someone could miss the offensiveness of posing as an African-American. But, in Texas, they’re trying to help elect someone who is posing as a Latino.

Ruben Navarrette’s email address is