This has been a very, very long presidential campaign. At least it seems so to me. I cannot remember a time when it took me so long to pick a candidate to vote for and to advocate for. With early voting in Texas only a week away, there isn’t a lot of time to advocate for my choice, Marco Rubio.
Why did it take me so long to pick a candidate? The truth is that it was a combination of the number of candidates on the ballot and the quality of the candidates. If I recall correctly, we started with 17 candidates and most of them were highly regarded. There is only one candidate that I thought was wholly unqualified to be on the ballot and that guy happens to be the front runner today. Go figure.
I truly wanted to vote for one of the governors. All of them have stellar records in their states. And after the experience of the country electing someone with zero experience as President in 2008, I wanted someone with solid executive experience. Unfortunately none of them proved to be viable candidates and two have already dropped out.
Winnowing the field
In evaluating the rest of the field, sometimes you have to use subtraction to winnow your choices based upon what you think is important before choosing between the acceptable candidates. In this case, the reality is that at this point there are only three choices available to me: Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio.
It was easy for me to drop Trump from my list. The plain truth is that Trump is not a Republican. The plain truth is that Trump is not a conservative. The plain truth is that Trump is the lowest form of populist, one that tries for the lowest common denominator in every case. He is the type of populist that Matt Lewis describes in his book, Too Dumb to Fail.
If, instead, populism represents the demagogic politics of nativism, xenophobia, resentment, know-nothingism, victimhood, bitterness, envy (specifically on the Left, in the form of redistributionism), and/ or protectionism— used as a rhetorical cudgel to manipulate the masses— then count me (and most of the public) out.
Lewis, Matt K. (2016-01-26). Too Dumb to Fail: How the GOP Betrayed the Reagan Revolution to Win Elections (and How It Can Reclaim Its Conservative Roots) (p. xx). Hachette Books. Kindle Edition.
I mean, seriously, shouldn’t you have voted in at least one Republican primary in your life if you are 69 years old and running to be the Republican nominee?
So that left me with Cruz and Rubio. I couldn’t winnow Cruz from my list because I agree with him on most issues. After much reading, research, and comparing them at the CNN Townhall last week, I chose Marco Rubio over Cruz for the following reasons.
This is the single most important issue for me. The issue for me is not only that the US is strong militarily but that we do not use our might except in the most extraordinary of circumstances. I remember when President George W. Bush embroiled us in the war in Iraq. I was very much against that war. Obviously, once we were involved, I had to support the men and women that were put in harms way. During the so-called surge, young men and women were being killed every day. I joined a group called the Patriot Guard and rode in over 50 funerals in a very short amount of time. It truly affected the way I view foreign policy.
Rubio’s experience in foreign policy vastly outweighs Cruz’s. And I think that when Rubio discusses the need to increase our military’s strength, he is doing so from a position like former President Ronald Reagan. Be so strong, so mighty, that no one is willing to face your wrath. Dealing with terrorist groups is something that Reagan didn’t have to face but the principle remains the same. I think that Rubio’s experience in the Senate with national security will help him in using diplomacy to contain and defeat ISIS. Cruz’s comments about carpet bombing ISIS and seeing if sand glows are irresponsible and show his limited understanding of how to deal with ISIS, as well as his mastery of bombastic rhetoric for a soundbite.
The difference between the two men in terms of electability in November couldn’t have been clearer than by watching them one after another in the CNN Townhalls in South Carolina last week (Rubio – Cruz). Rubio soars above the fray and has the ability to inspire people about the future of America. Make America Great again isn’t just a campaign slogan for Rubio, it is simply a step along the way to making America the best it can be. No other Republican candidate can inspire people from all walks of life the way Rubio can. He has a compelling story and he tells it in a compelling way. We need to grow the party. Do you realize we have lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections? I think Rubio is our best shot to win in November.
The knock against Rubio is that he participated in the “Gang of Eight”. Indeed, I criticized him harshly for that at the time. But I like the fact that he was at least willing to try to solve a problem instead of simply ducking it with nonsensical rhetoric. In one of the rare times I agree with Erick Erickson of RedState fame, I agree with this:
In Washington, Rubio has shown two essential characteristics of a savvy politician. First, he was willing to work with Democrats on broad bipartisan policy, namely immigration. Second, when the deal went south, Rubio was willing to walk away from it and admit he learned a lesson from it. There are few politicians willing to admit mistakes and move on.
Those saying that Rubio supports amnesty are simply regurgitating rhetorical nonsense. Even in the Gang of Eight bill, there was no amnesty. We have an illegal immigration problem in this country. We need solutions, not soundbites. I think that Rubio is the best equipped to deal with the problem and finally offer up an acceptable solution. A wall is not a solution. Deporting people en masse is not a solution. If I were smart enough to tell you the solution, I’d be running for president. I’m not. But I do know that you cannot solve a problem without trying. A “my way or the highway” approach to legislation isn’t going to work in any case but especially in solving our illegal immigration problem.
I don’t see much difference between Rubio and Cruz when it comes to the economy. Both are free market advocates. Both want to restructure the tax system. I think that Rubio’s tax plans are more substantive than Cruz’s tax plans. Obviously Cruz’s talking point of abolishing the IRS wins the soundbite wars but it isn’t going to happen in my lifetime and he knows it. He hasn’t managed to pass a single piece of substantive legislation in three years in the Senate and suddenly he’s going to wave a magic wand and abolish the IRS? Meanwhile Rubio is the only Senator to pass a meaningful amendment to undercut Obamacare. It is easy to rail on about an issue, it is quite another to be able to work the process to achieve desired results.
So there you go. Those are the reasons that I ultimately decided to vote for Marco Rubio and advocate for his candidacy. You might disagree with me and that’s okay, our whole system is built upon honest disagreements. See you at the polls.