Presidential Campaign

Hamilton takes a shot

Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton
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The perfect antidote to Donald Trump is Alexander Hamilton.

He’s not just the fellow on the $10 bill but the subject of the smash Broadway hit by Lin-Manuel Miranda.

This amazingly talented Puerto Rican actor and composer, who won a MacArthur “genius” grant, first gained fame with the musical “In the Heights.” Now he presents “Hamilton,” a valuable history lesson as well as a wildly entertaining show, with a multiracial cast and hip-hop infused numbers that make you want to sing along and stomp your feet. In Trumpian terms, it’s yuuge, raking in a Grammy and almost every award in sight, plus outgrossing all other plays on Broadway.

{mosads}Miranda hjmself portrays Hamilton, born in the Caribbean island of Nevis, who arrives penniless in New York like many another immigrant striver. He is determined to “take his shot,” becoming an aide-de-camp to Gen. George Washington, who leads the ragtag Continental Army. The rest, as they say, is history: Hamilton goes on to serve as the first secretary of the Treasury, but meets his end in a duel with longtime rival Aaron Burr.

Trump would describe Hamilton as a loser who got himself shot. But the guy who wants to make America great again should take a cue from the guys who actually made America.

There was no talk of building a big, beautiful border wall at the time of the American Revolution. Immigrants were needed to populate a vast continent (or rather, take it from the indigenous people who already lived there), so the more the merrier. And the first immigration bill, the Naturalization Act of 1790, allowed anyone who had lived there for two years to apply for citizenship, though this was restricted to “free white persons.” Nonetheless, it sounds suspiciously like a path to legalization, and even amnesty.

Today, we need immigrants more than ever, to pick our crops and build our condos, as well as to keep the U.S. competitive in a global economy. But the patriots who threw the first Tea Party in Boston Harbor would be vilified by today’s Tea Party as anti-patriotic.

The GOP candidates want to “secure the border,” but there hasn’t been any net migration from Mexico in the past five years. Trump describes Mexican immigrants as rapists and drug dealers, and wants to deport all 12 million “illegals” without due process, a modern-day Operation Wetback. But last year, undocumented workers paid $11.6 billion in taxes, more than Trump’s net worth. And they’ve pumped over $1 trillion into Social Security, keeping it afloat for the rest of us. That ain’t cacahuetes, as they say in Mexico.

Had Hamilton been deported, we wouldn’t have a U.S. Treasury, much less a $10 bill, and America would be a very different place today.

Hamilton’s nemesis was Burr, Thomas Jefferson’s vice president. Burr might well have been our third president had Hamilton backed him. In their famous duel in 1804, Hamilton took a bullet at 10 paces and died the next morning. Burr fled and was vilified, not just by his fellow Founding Fathers, but historians as well.

The duel between the two Republican Cuban-American presidential candidates, Sens. Ted Cruz (Texas) and Marco Rubio (Fla.), probably won’t end much better. At last Thursday’s debate, they declared a truce to bash the Trump piñata. But it won’t be long before they’re mano a mano once more, fighting for second place. Like Burr, Rubio is a better shot and may well take out Cruz, but at his own peril if he’s perceived as a bully, like that guy from New Jersey who just endorsed Trump. What was his name again?

Like Cruz, Hamilton was a brilliant if abrasive lawyer who took extreme positions and was disliked by many of his peers. In contrast, Burr was deemed too slick by half, and accused of changing his positions as well as his political loyalties. Sound familiar?

But times have changed. Hamilton and Burr fought to defend their honor according to the code duello. Cruz and Rubio talk trash on immigration and who speaks better Spanish.

The GOP candidates should all go see “Hamilton.” But it’s been sold out for months, so good luck with that. Tickets aren’t available until November, just in time for Election Day.

Estrada was born in Cuba and graduated from Harvard University before practicing law and founding HISPANIC Magazine. Based in Austin, he is currently the editor of LATINO Magazine and the author of the novel “Welcome to Havana, Señor Hemingway” and the nonfiction book “Havana: Autobiography of a City.”

Tags Broadway Donald Trump Hamilton Marco Rubio musical Play Ted Cruz

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