Sen. Marco Rubio is trying to build a bridge between the GOP’s populist voters and the party’s business-first wing — but without mentioning his advocacy for the cheap-labor immigration policy which has split the GOP, wrecked his career and put a real-estate developer into the White House.
Rubio does his bridge-building in National Review, but his article does not even mention “immigration.” That dodge allows Rubio to skip the question of whether he should admit or even apologize for his support of the disastrous “Gang of Eight” amnesty-and-cheap-labor legislation in 2013.
Instead, Rubio tries to build his bridge with promises of “dignity,” even though the federal policy of economic growth via cheap-labor immigration strips many Americans of wages, community solidarity, and confidence in the future:
President Trump won the office I sought. As a participant in that campaign, I can attest that he owes his victory to the fact that he was the candidate who best understood that our political parties no longer appealed to millions of Americans — that being hailed as a “reasonable conservative” by CNN, or a “pure conservative” by conservative think tanks didn’t mean anything to the millions of Americans who felt forgotten and left behind.
The families I met in West Miami during my first campaign and the ones I met running for president aren’t ideological warriors. They are fathers and mothers, workers and small-business owners, Little League coaches and church volunteers. What they care about is having leaders who understand them and fight for them.
They need leaders who appreciate that jobs are not just about making money so they can buy more things; jobs are first and foremost about dignity.
Rubio portrays himself as a defender of the family and of religion, but declines to show how he can deliver higher paychecks:
The family, the single most important institution in all of society, is buffeted by economic pressures that discourage family life, and by social engineering that seeks to replace it.
The faith of our fathers and the traditional values it teaches are now routinely mocked, ridiculed and increasingly silenced by liberal elites in the press, Hollywood, and academia, denying millions of Americans their place in the public square.
The essay does include a careful appeal to Rubio’s Florida donors — the ones who wrecked his career by pushing him to support the amnesty legislation. That appeal consists of a vague warning that Americans will eventually support government authoritarianism:
What happens to a nation when the only economic-policy options offered are narrow economic growth without redistribution, or narrow economic growth with redistribution? Or when the social security provided by strong families is replaced by accumulating wealth or by becoming dependent on government programs? What happens when what is right and wrong is relative instead of rooted in absolute truth found by faith? What happens when citizens of a nation abandon their shared inheritance for the identity politics of wealth, race, or ideology?
… This failure has left millions of people vulnerable to the ancient temptation of authoritarianism.
… But if we fail to correct our current course, we could end up emboldening the cause of autocracy.
But without mentioning the mechanism that is causing such pain, Rubio cannot explain why he, rather than the real-estate developer from New York, is better able to divert the nation from an autocratic future. Small wonder that Rubio defaults back to meaningless rhetoric:
Rebuilding the American project cannot be the work of conservatives alone. It will require a broad civic awakening, one that restores our ability — as one people with many different views — to discuss these issues, recommit to our founding principles, and ensure that we preserve the blessings of American freedom for generations to come.
National Review‘s editor thinks highly of Rubio’s meandering:
An important piece from @marcorubio that shows he’s not just ducking and covering in this era but thinking through what it means
Building a National American Conservatism https://t.co/7rKMV9gsGO
— Rich Lowry (@RichLowry) April 23, 2018