Sunday, August 28, 2011

Marco Rubio loves America - just not the last 110 years

Florida Senator Marco Rubio is being hyped by many Republicans as the future of the party. He is young, charismatic, and handsome. And who doesn't love Marco Rubio's story? It is inspirational that only fifty years after Marco Rubio's father came to America (in 1960), Rubio was elected as a US Senator (2010). As Rubio explains, "what makes our story so special is that isn't unique. The American Dream is still a reality."

So this week, I quickly checked out Rubio's big speech from the Reagan Library where he decided to lay out his political philosophy (and lay the groundwork for his presidential campaign). The following video encapsulates Rubio's rather bizarre political beliefs:

Wow. Twentieth century government programs (e.g., social security, medicare) were "doomed to fail from the start."

Why? "It forgot that the strength of our nation begins with our people and these programs weakened us a people."

Here's my favorite example of how twentieth century programs weakened us in Rubio's view. "If someone was sick in your family, you took care of them....but all that changed when the government assumed these responsibilities."

A few, very quick reasons why this makes absolutely no sense.
1. Before Medicare, 50% of seniors had no hospital insurance. Let's hypothetically say that a family member "took care of them." They still didn't have access to a doctor - which is usually pretty helpfully when you are elderly and sick.
2. People still "take care of" their elderly family members. They probably spend much less time doing so than in the nineteenth century because the elderly can get assistance from medical professionals. However, ask any baby boomer with sick parents and they will tell you that they supplement the professional medical services by watching after their parents and often times coordinating their treatment.
3. If middle aged people can spend more time working because they are no longer the full-time care takers of their parents, isn't this good for society / the economy? What determines long-term economic growth is the productive capacity of the workforce and having a large portion of your workforce staying home trying to watch after their parents all day would seem to diminish this capacity.

Rubio concludes this segment by stating, "as government crowded out the institutions in our society that did this thing traditionally it weakened our people in a way that undermined our ability to maintain our prosperity."

The American people were weakened in the twentieth century? He provides no support for this claim and it does not even pass a smell test.This is the century when America experienced historically unprecedented economic growth and became the world's pre-eminent super power. This was the century where the American Dream was built: opportunities were opened up to Americans of all income classes, ethnicities, and ultimately races.

Furthermore, the contradiction between Rubio's campaign commercial, praising the opportunities his family had in America in the late twentieth century, and this speech, slamming the twentieth century, is so blatant that it's painful.

Rubio presents himself as a young, charismatic, and forward-looking leader. In reality, he is a reactionary's reactionary. He doesn't just want to undo the actions of the Obama or Bush-43 Administration. He is philosophically opposed to the federal government's twentieth century policies and wants to go back to a time in which America was less prosperous, had higher levels of inequality, and was less powerful.

For those who love America as it is, and not America as it was in 1900, Marco Rubio is a dangerous man.

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