There is a very strong likelihood that Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is going to play a major role in the future of the Republican Party over the next few years. Rubio is Cuban, one of the few Hispanic demographics that the Republican Party is still competitive. If Rubio wants to contest the presidency in 2016, he has a strong chance of being nominated or at least altering how the GOP positions itself on critical issues.
The biggest reason that Rubio might not run for the presidency is that his senate term expires in 2016. Rubio is only 41. He will have many opportunities in the years ahead to run for president, if he can hold onto his senate seat. That doesn’t mean Rubio won’t be an influence in the Republican Party though. He appears to be trying to carve a position for himself as a spokesperson for the GOP. However, his views look no different than the warmed over platforms of Romney, Gingrich and Santorum that voters rejected.
In an interview from GQ magazine, Rubio began to angle those positions with his own slant. He affirms that there are major disagreements on issues, but doesn’t suggest solutions unless it is that we should accept that we have differences and just get along. That is difficult to do when the disagreements are not turned into solutions.
By now, you have probably heard of Rubio’s response when asked the age of the earth.
GQ: How old do you think the Earth is?
Marco Rubio: I’m not a scientist, man. I can tell you what recorded history says, I can tell you what the Bible says, but I think that’s a dispute amongst theologians and I think it has nothing to do with the gross domestic product or economic growth of the United States. I think the age of the universe has zero to do with how our economy is going to grow. I’m not a scientist. I don’t think I’m qualified to answer a question like that. At the end of the day, I think there are multiple theories out there on how the universe was created and I think this is a country where people should have the opportunity to teach them all. I think parents should be able to teach their kids what their faith says, what science says. Whether the Earth was created in 7 days, or 7 actual eras, I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to answer that. It’s one of the great mysteries.
I won’t even go into all the reasons that the age of the earth does affect GDP. The age of the earth is closely tied to geology. A knowledge of geology guides oil and gas exploration, as well as mining exploration. Believing that the earth is just a few thousand years old upends the basics of geology. That would be a problem if believing that the earth is only 6,000 years old, and dinosaurs had time to go extinct and turn into the raw material of fossil fuels in that brief period. Science disciplines are not completely independent branches of study. Biology and physics do share common principles. If Rubio thinks that one of the cornerstones of science, namely the age of the earth and universe, can be separated from the rest of science, then he needs to understand that upends all science. In a technological society, science does matter. It does affect the GDP.
That isn’t all Rubio had to say either. When asked about same-sex marriage, he responded that Americans should agree to disagree and move onto other issues. After all, it’s only a civil right. The argument Rubio makes could be found in what some segregationists said in the civil rights battles of the 1960s. The same fact back then exists today. The civil rights of minorities didn’t affect the civil rights of whites. Allowing gays to marry doesn’t hurt the marriages of straight people.
GQ: You talk a lot to young Republicans. Recently I met a Republican who said, my kids are in high school and there’s a prom. There’s straight kids, gay kids. It’s no big deal to them. And he says, my party, the Republican party, has to stop putting these social issues out there and talking more about stuff that effects people.
Marco Rubio: I think that’s unfair. A significant percentage of Americans feel very strongly about this issue. What I’m hearing is that it’s ok for one side to express their view and the other side needs to be quiet. There are a very significant number of Americans that feel very strongly about the issue of life, about the issue of marriage and are we saying that they should be silenced or not allowed to speak or voice their opinion? There’s a way to do that that is respectful and productive. There are things we’ll always disagree on, but it doesn’t mean we go to war over them or divide our country over them. We agree to disagree, but we continue to work together on the things we all know that we have to do.
Did you notice the solution Rubio proposes for abortion and same-sex marriage? We agree to disagree and work on other things. Rubio likes that position with same-sex marriage because it means no changes to current laws. On the other hand, Rubio isn’t about to tell pro-lifers that abortion is the law, and they should move on. He’s trying to appear as if he walks a moderate line, but the reality is quite different.
Rubio also makes the case against big government by asserting that the rich and powerful can use their money to influence government, which is true. However, Rubio then suggests that not having big government is an equalizer for people. Rubio has it right that the powerful are controlling government, but that is because money is the dominant factor in American politics. Why Rubio believes that the ease which the rich influence society will not happen if governments are less powerful defies history.
In fact, we’ve allowed a myth to take hold in the minds of some that conservatism is about helping the people who have “made it” and not about helping the people who are trying to make it. I think we have a very compelling argument, which happens to be true: the people who have made it, billionaires and multi-billion dollar corporations, they may not like big government, but they can afford to deal with it. They can hire the best lawyers in America and try to figure out the loopholes and the best lobbyists to create them. In fact, they use big government to their advantage. They’ll have regulations and rules written to hurt their competition. So, big government helps the people who have made it. It doesn’t help the people who are trying to make it, it crushes the people who are trying to make it. So, our challenge is, if we want free enterprise, limited government, and conservatism to be a viable and successful political movement in America, we’ve got to make that connection for people.
That’s a great argument, but Rubio uses it selectively. He doesn’t take the position of limited government when it comes to same-sex marriage. In that case, he takes a position along the lines that everyone should accept that there are different points of view and those who want to change things to be more inclusive should get over it.
Rubio ignores that it takes constant vigilance to keep the free enterprise field level. There’s a reason that corporations developed monopolies in the Guilded Age. It was because government stayed out of the way. Corporations racked up tremendous profits and increased wealth disparity. The rest of America did not enjoy the quality of life that a few found. It took another age and Teddy Roosevelt to bring that wealth to more Americans and develop a growing middle class. Whenever there are some rich and powerful, leaving a vacuum only invites dominance.
This seems to be the blueprint Rubio wants for America. Whether it is science, marriage or the role of government, Rubio believes that truth, equality and fairness should take a backseat and be forgotten.