CPAC 2012: Marco Rubio's Exceptional America

Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) said of the current President of the United States: “He looks like he’s a good husband.  He looks like he’s a great father.  But he’s a terrible President.”

Rubio sees an equally terrible re-election campaign ahead.  “He cannot run on his record, so what’s he going to do instead?”  The answer is that we are watching a President whose re-election strategy is “to pit us against each other,” and peddle the notion that “the only way for some of us to do better is for other people to do worse.”  Rubio finds Obama’s calculated reliance upon these arguments unprecedented in American history, and fears they are not a recipe for brotherhood or domestic tranquility, much less prosperity.

He knows this because he has already seen it happen, in the bleak and bloody corners of the world.  “That’s what other countries do,” Rubio declared indignantly.  “That’s the kind of thought process that people come here to get away from!” 

Obama’s mindset of division and decay is a poor fit for a majority conservative nation.  “How do we know this is a majority conservative nation?” Rubio asked.  “How come liberals never admit that they’re liberals?  What are Republican primaries usually about?  They’re usually, at the core, about which candidate is the most like Ronald Reagan.  You never hear Democrats fighting over who’s more like Jimmy Carter.”

Rubio celebrated the enduring reverence of most Americans for their Constitution – a reverence that certainly isn’t shared by much of the ruling class.  After a brief digression to mourn Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s disgraceful endorsement of the Canadian and South African constitutions over America’s, as a model for the new Egyptian government to follow, Rubio endorsed the conservative ideal of limited government, and economic liberty as the key to prosperity.  “You literally can’t walk five steps, in this very room, without running into someone who, at some point, had an idea and the opportunity to pursue it… and today, families are being fed, and people will cash a paycheck – well, actually, tomorrow’s Friday, so tomorrow they’ll cash a paycheck – because you had an idea, and the freedom to pursue it.”

That little aside about tomorrow being payday illustrates one of the great things about Rubio’s speaking style.  He’s not just reciting notes or using a teleprompter like a Ouija board.  He says what he believes, thinks about what he’s saying, and has the kind of confidence that manifests itself through easy good humor.

Rubio called for “simplicity and normalcy in the tax code,” noting that while taxes must fund the essential functions of government, “the tax code shouldn’t be an impediment to creating jobs, and regulations should make sense.”  Much of what our taxes current fund amounts to huge government agencies justifying their own existence, which drops a crushing burden on American competitiveness against the rest of the world.  We urgently need regulatory reform, because “we have to have clean air and water, but we also need some sanity.”

Building a business in the Twenty-First century requires “electricity, and the ability to get there and back,” two assets the Obama Administration has been keen on stripping from the private sector.  “Here’s the deal,” explained Rubio.  “We are an energy-rich nation.  Why would we tie our own hands behind our back?  The Chinese will drill a hole wherever they can get their hands on.  We need to use the energy God has blessed our nation with.”  He’s all in favor of developing energy-efficient technology, up to and including “a way to turn rose petals into gasoline,” but that kind of research cannot be conducted in the dark, with materials delivered to the laboratories on horseback.

Rubio believes economic growth has been slowed by growing fear of the unsustainable debt burden hanging over the heads of Americans.  He looks to what is happening in Europe as a flash-forward to our debt-crisis future, “and we don’t know how far away it is… six months, or six years?  It’s coming, and we know that.” 

Among the forces driving our impending brush with Athens-style “austerity” are unsustainable entitlement programs.  Rubio has no patience with those who respond to constructive suggestions, from the likes of Rep. Paul Ryan, with blind MediScare attacks.  “Anyone in favor of leaving Medicare the way it is right now, is in favor of bankrupting Medicare,” he declared, holding up a blank piece of paper to illustrate President Obama’s non-existent plans for avoiding such bankruptcy.

Rubio ranked the strength of the American people alongside the importance of economic and military strength, for it is our people – not our government – who have made us great.  He sees critical institutions of society, which contribute to the strength of citizens and families, under assault by the Obama Administration.  “We have a President who, just a few days ago, issued a mandate ordering religious institutions to follow his ideals… telling religious-based organizations that they must, by mandate of the federal government, pay for things that religion teaches is wrong.  You may not agree with that religion’s teachings, but that’s not the point.  The point is that the First Amendment still applies.  Religious freedom still exists.” 

He confessed he isn’t sure what the foreign constitutions Justice Ginsburg admires might have to say on the matter, but he knows what the United States Constitution says: “The federal government does not have the power to force religious organizations to pay for things that organization thinks is wrong!”

On the scale of history, only a “moment” has passed since world wars were fought against totalitarian evil.  What followed could hardly be described as “world peace,” and cleaning the blood from the edge of the statist hammer has not softened its essential nature.  “Today millions of people around the world are part of the middle class because of the rise of democracy and free enterprise.  Did that happen on its own?  Is that the natural state of man?”  Rubio suggested a study of humanity’s long history beneath the boots of oppressors answers that question.

Democracy and free enterprise spread, not because they are humanity’s default condition, but because “the most powerful nation in the world believed in these things, fought for these things, spoke out for these things… and most importantly, was an example of these things.”  The power of the American example transcends military and political force, because “all around the world, there are people who know there is someone just like them, living here, doing things they cannot.”

“What happens if we diminish, because we can no longer afford to be the leader of the free world?” Rubio asked.  “What happens if we diminish because our leaders decide they don’t want to be the leaders of the free world anymore?  What happens if we retreat?  What happens is that we’ll leave a space, and that space will be filled by someone else.”  The likely candidates for our successor as global hyperpower are totalitarian states like Russia and China… whose measure Rubio took by noting that they’ve vetoed United Nations efforts to rein in Syria’s dictator, Bashar Assad, because they reserve the right to use such brutal tactics against their own people.

Rubio understands that the clash of civilizations cannot be won from an easy chair, or a death bed.  “The greatest thing we can do for the people of the world is be America,” he concluded.  “That’s what’s at stake here.  That’s what November will be about.”

It would be a shame if all the people who flee to America, to escape from socialist decay and totalitarian repression, found the very things they fled awaiting them on our shores.  It pays to take a moment and see our exceptional nation through the eyes of those tired, poor, huddled masses, as Marco Rubio has done.