Sen. Marco Rubio’s Road to Majority conference speech on Thursday hinted heavily toward his criticism of the Trump administration’s negotiations with China, warning that American children could inherit a world dominated by the Asian power.
The Senator has been a harsh critic of the Trump administration’s trade negotiations with China and of a potential deal lifting Trump administration-imposed restrictions on Chinese telecommunications company ZTE that could be lifted under a new deal.
Rubio spoke at the conference of seven decades ago, as the United States was coming out of WWII an “optimistic nation.” He continually looked to the podium throughout his speech. He continued saying that two years later the nation faced challenges that could soften that optimism. He then spoke of moves that led to economic advances as well as new families that drove the “baby boom.”
He then turned to the current day and the new set of challenges facing America today. He talked about jobs being transformed and eliminated by machines, technology and globalization.
He then pointed to new “geopolitical challenger” China for “systematically executing” on what the Soviet Union never could, “supplanting the United States to become the world’s premier technological, economic, geopolitical, and military power.”
He said that while these are significant challenges, that they “pale in comparison” to recovering from the second world war or living under threat of a third.
“Our obstacle right now is of the institutions that make us strong have grown weak,” said Rubio. “Weakened by an economic elitism that has replaced a commitment to the dignity of work” and “cultural elitism,” among other contributing factors. He said it has isolated us from one another and made people susceptible to conspiracy theories and a loss of patriotism. He argued that people are not being treated as people.
Rubio went on to describe four pillars of America’s strength that are required to deal with any challenge that it faces.
The first pillar he listed was “an economy that’s built on the dignity of work.”
He said today America’s economic debate is based on “a valueless financial self-interest and a view of Americans as simply consumers.” He warned there are “immense consequences to this view.”
He spoke of American jobs and production of advanced goods in technology. “We cannot allow China to cheat and to steal their way into a position of dominance in these industries.”
The second pillar he identified as the family. He spoke of values and the percentage change in children born outside of a marriage, from fewer than five percent in the 1950s to over 40 percent today. He added that many families today are buffeted by economic pressures and social engineering. He lauded the Faith and Freedom Coalition and used these are reasoning for him fighting to expand the child tax credit and for fighting alongside Ivanka Trump to expand paid family leave
The third pillar of our strength Rubio listed was the “ability to work together in community.”
Rubio moved from talking about individualism that transcends the left into other areas of business and politics, to talking about those who equate wealth with being good. He said this is why we “have a financial elite that outsources American jobs to countries that do not share our values and views the traditional beliefs of regular Americans as backwards.”
That’s how we have multinational corporations who have no problem chasing a profit in a repressive, communist dictatorship like China, but they won’t do business in the state of North Carolina. It’s how Google won’t help develop technology for the American military, but they’re willing to partner with Chinese spy companies like Huawei.
“They have chosen financial self-interest and ideological division over country,” said Rubio, who added it increasingly feels like a “democracy of the fittest.”
He said the resulting deep divisions not only paralyze Americans from taking action but are used against America by “international adversaries.”
Rubio then said that Russian President Vladimir Putin sought not to elect Donald Trump by interfering in the 2016 election, but to weaken America by exploiting divisions and bitter politics.
He told the audience this is why they must work to invigorate community, defend religious liberty, create space for communities to flourish, and “provide positive examples of moral communities that advance a vision of the common good.”
The fourth and final pillar Rubio listed was the belief that “doing all of this is worth it because America is a special country.” And that this does not mean forgetting sins of the past, but remembering that America has overcome them: the end of slavery, women’s suffrage, civil rights, end of segregation, a number of social causes.
He said his journey over the past seven years has provided him with the “benefits of the broader perspective.”
Rubio said the American people need to learn to work together even if they disagree and if they don’t then they will pay the terrible price that their children will grow up where dignified work is only available to a few. He added that their children would also “inherit a democracy that is an island in an ocean of tyranny” and that their children would live in a world dominated by China. He said in this future world dominated by China, “where they will have to depend on them for the latest medical advances in technology and where privacy and free speech, and religious liberty, and human rights are no longer protected, because China, the most powerful country at that point, is a serial violator of each one of these things. And if God forbid, that day should ever come, it will have been because those of us here now allowed it to happen.”
In late May Rubio blasted the Trump administration, accusing it of not winning in trade talks with China. He said China is winning and cited a proposed deal with U.S.-sanctioned Chinese telecommunications company ZTE.
Days after blasting the administration, Rubio claimed on CBS’s Face the Nation that there would be a supermajority in Congress to block Trump’s impending deal on ZTE.
On Thursday, the same day as Rubio’s conference speech, a bipartisan group of Senators found common ground and introduced a bill to block the tentative deal between the U.S. and Chinese company ZTE.
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