Monday, May 18, 2009

Why Marco Rubio is the Next Ronald Reagan

Listening to Marco Rubio, one can almost hear what the Gipper would say: “One day a young, well versed, bright son of immigrants, who is every bit as passionate about the words and ideals of our Founding Fathers as Americans were in their time (probably interjecting with one of his typical self-effacing quips: “I know, I was there”) will be president. Let’s just make sure he’s a Republican.” In Marco Rubio, the Gipper would be proud.

In Marco Rubio, Ronald Reagan would also find an heir to his legacy in more ways than one. But before I explain how Rubio is like the Gipper, let me preface with why the two are alike.

Republicans today are consumed with finding a next Reagan, yet in their search, most seem to miss one crucial point. Ronald Reagan never aspired to be Ronald Reagan. He was a man of sincere and passionate beliefs who was ready to take the fight to where he needed to.

Ronald Reagan saw real problems, proposed real and common sense solutions and then fought for them with a focused passion that can only come from a determination to do what is right.

Reagan’s message was essential. His ideas were needed. The race was never about him. It was about setting America on a proper path, starting with the needed task of taking the nation off of a path that had thus far led to destruction, or at least toward decay.

Marco Rubio is intelligent and sincere. His policies reflect his thoughts and sound ideas. You can tell the difference between a man who merely talks the talk and a leader who espouses and communicates his sincere beliefs. The former is more often than not left twisting in the wind when his ideas are challenged. The latter, if articulate, can use such challenges to explain the soundness of his or her views.

Marco Rubio understands that one of our biggest problems as a nation are low rates of household savings and society’s desire to consume. So Rubio favors a fair tax that encourages savings and makes those who spend frivolously contribute to the nation as they do so. Moreover, Rubio makes no bones about how the current tax system rewards those who can afford the best accountants and attorneys, and who thereby find the best loopholes. He also makes no bones about how that system needs to change.

On family values, Rubio walks the walk. He’s the embodiment of a family man first and foremost. Needless to say, he understands the important role that national security plays in protecting both family and country.

Like the Gipper, Marco Rubio gives the impression that he understands a most crucial point in governing; that what works for the family is also what works for government. This philosophy is central to good government and to sound economic policy – but that’s for another article, as it deserves proper explanation. The main point is that Rubio understands public policy in a way that can only come from a sincere endeavor to arrive at conclusions that are truly in the public interest. In this way, Marco Rubio is the heir to the real legacy of Ronald Reagan. Like Reagan, Rubio’s interest lies not in winning a popularity contest, rather in winning the battle of ideas. And because of this, Rubio, like Reagan, will do wonders for the nation for years to come.

And yet, there is another way that Marco Rubio is like Ronald Reagan, and because of this, our involvement is needed in his campaign. Like Reagan, Rubio is being challenged by the weaker wing of the party, one that is devoid of ideas and interested in maintaining the status quo. Up until 1980, this wing fought Reagan at every turn, not because they failed to recognize the unique qualities that the Gipper possessed, but because they were worried about rocking the boat. And that same overcautious wing that paralyzes the party’s ability to progress and draw new blood is as hesitant of the dynamic Marco Rubio as they were of Ronald Reagan less than 30 years ago.

But yesterday’s mistakes are today’s utter folly. In 1980, we did not have the advantage of hindsight. In 1980, we Republicans also did not have a strong Democratic opponent who made it necessary for Republicans to seize the initiative and momentum. In 1980, we were not bleeding for a young candidate to reach out to youth, Ronald Reagan did just fine. And in 1980, we had yet to recognize the need for minority outreach. All of the above necessitates a Rubio candidacy.

I don’t want to overplay this point. While the media pundits who gave us Rudy and Hillary as sure bets until two months before the primaries are now touting Charlie Crist, Crist’s home town paper needed to report that in Crist’s own home county, more than half of those who attend party meetings signed up to help Rubio. The paper was also forced to report that mention of Charlie Crist has actually drawn boos from average Republican crowds throughout the state.

(I don’t want to harp on this either. Charlie Crist is a widely liked person among independents. Honestly, I don’t see how a Senate run as a candidate of “bipartisan appeal” against an up and coming Republican star helps Crist’s national ambitions. If he were to lay the groundwork for two years for a run against popular Democrat Bill Nelson - an easier feat than it seems – Crist could spend the next two years traveling the state and campaigning full time while Nelson is forced to rubber stamp the Obama agenda – Crist would he heralded as a giant slayer. Running for the seat open in 2010, even if he were to win, would prevent Crist from advancing beyond the Senate. He’d be the consensus general election candidate and bruised among Republicans for his run against an enthused up and coming conservative. And if he is the nominee in 2010, look for Democrats to build an Obama-like story around their nominee, Kendrick Meek, one that Rubio can easily counter and that Charlie Crist cannot.)

Marco Rubio, if made our nominee, will be an instant national figure and the cornerstone of youth and Hispanic outreach. Of Cuban-American descent, Rubio will be able to make strong inroads in the demographic that is most fluid and most up for grabs. He’ll do so without compromising or wavering on any conservative principles. Most of all, Rubio is simply the best candidate to arrive on the political stage in a long time. I hope to speak of President Rubio some day, but for now we need to get him elected to the US Senate.

An appeal to readers and to all likeminded people who wish to have a strong and vibrant common sense and values oriented party: Get involved in this campaign. Sign up at It is a fight that is truly worth fighting.

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