The suspension of Marco Rubio's campaign is not something to be overlooked. It is not a minor, 'we all saw this coming' event. Rubio's failure to run a successful campaign, highlighted by his loss in his own state and culminating in the suspension announcement on Tuesday evening, signals the failure of the national Republican strategy.
After Mitt Romney lost the 2012 presidential election, the Republican Party put together the "Growth and Opportunity Project," commonly referred to as "the Republican autopsy report", which detailed the party's mistakes in the election and what they needed to do to perform better in 2016. The report contained ideas apparently not previously considered by conservatives, including awkwardly phrased novelties like "If we want ethnic minority voters to support Republicans, we have to engage them, and show our sincerity."
The key directive in that report, however, was aimed at reaching out to Hispanic voters, emphasized through the need to "embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform," noting that "If Hispanic Americans perceive that a GOP nominee or candidate does not want them in the United States (i.e. self-deportation), they will not pay attention to our next sentence."
Marco Rubio's campaign was built on the recommendations of this report. Rubio's own story, that of a Cuban immigrant family finding the American Dream and enabling the success of their children, was the story this report sought to sell to Latino voters in an attempt to convince them that Republicans understood and cared about their concerns.
On Tuesday night, Marco Rubio suspended his campaign after losing his home state of Florida, a state with a 23 percent Latino population, to a man who launched his presidential campaign by calling Mexican immigrants rapists and drug-dealers.
The subsequent autopsy report of the Rubio campaign does not need to be as complicated and insincere as the national party's report; it only needs to acknowledge the facts that the national report missed. Primarily, that the most powerful Republican constituency is not concerned with the needs and aspirations of Latino immigrants. Frightened white people don't want the son of Cuban immigrants as their next President, and they certainly don't want a man who appeals to the needs of Latino voters.
The national Republican Party either doesn't grasp or willingly ignores the effects of their own rhetoric. They cannot convince voters overnight that they suddenly care about minorities when they've spent so many years implying otherwise. And when they put forth a candidate who has the ability to appeal to Latino voters, the white voting bloc fires back and undermines the facade of compassion by nominating a man who "says what's really on everyone's mind."
Which, as anyone paying attention understands, is that the Republican Party is not the party for minority voters.
Rubio's exit signals the futility of trying to rebrand the Republican Party. At the same time, it demonstrates the success of the Southern Strategy and the conservative movement to label minorities as "dangerous others." Depending on your perspective, the suspension of Rubio's campaign can be interpreted numerous ways. But if your perspective contains any concern for the future of a balanced two party system and the future of the United States as a compassionate, egalitarian, and open society - this is not an event to take lightly.