Senator Marco Rubio — who swept into office on a tide of goodwill and Tea Party sentiment — has in recent months devoted himself to immigration reform in an effort to address real issues with our current policy. In a crass political sense, he may also be engaged in an attempt to reach out to potential Latino constituents that extends beyond the Cuban population in his home state of Florida.
Regardless of his motivations, his efforts have been less than fruitful.
The bill, which just cleared a big hurdle, was passed in the Democrat-controlled Senate, only after a thorough excoriation of the young Senator from Florida — the former bright light of the conservative movement. His concessions to the Democrats proved too much for purists, who seem to prefer watching Republicans in Congress simply react to the latest outrage from the Obama administration rather than attempt to maneuver within the constraints of reality.
Previously zealous supporters have turned on Rubio with a vengeance. Sarah Palin is calling him an amnesty supporter, and there is even talk of a primary challenge from Allen West. It’s all getting a bit too ridiculous, and nobody is even hinting at the true threat to his electoral prospects: a migrating hairline.
The backlash from Rubio stalwarts is no more productive. Rubio is facing criticism from some of his more stridently conservative fellow Republicans (namely Senator Ted Cruz – who is idiotically being attacked – along with Rand Paul and Mike Lee – as well by the aptly named “conventional wisdom crowd” within the conservative movement). Naturally, these quarrelsome fellows must be discredited and marginalized — and perhaps even ever-so-gently associated with bigotry. How else can we realize the salvation of the Republican brand after the drubbing in 2012?
Am I wrong in thinking that the purpose of a body like the Senate is primarily deliberative and that perfect agreement is rarely expected? When did we start expecting lockstep conformity from our elected representatives? It smacks of a siege mentality, or an inquisition. Rubio is only the highest-profile heretic.
Forgive me if I cannot muster the outrage that animates some quarters of the vociferous Online Right. Immigration has never been my favorite cause, or even among my top five. At present, it ranks somewhere near the bottom on my list of priorities. That’s not to say that a secure border isn’t necessary for national security, that the rule of law shouldn’t be respected, or that the rights and dignity of the human person should be trampled by that same unfeeling Law. If push comes to shove, I could probably lay out something resembling a coherent opinion.
What I can do, without much prodding, is question the wisdom of those who advocate cutting Marco Rubio from our team.
Really, do we propose to simply just…toss him out?
It makes no sense at all to cast aside a young, eloquent, energetic, and personable figure like Rubio. It’s as if people anticipate that he’ll turn into a legislative version of Justice Souter and begin aligning himself with the Democrats in the Senate.
Is his view on this one issue sufficient to discard such a promising spokesman?
I don’t believe people really want to do that. Even if he is an apostate in their eyes, it is in their best interests to keep him around for those times when he can advance the goals of the movement with his considerable political talents.
You don’t discard a tool until it is broken. And not to belabor the point, but all politicians are tools.
Simply put, we don’t know what opportunities will come our way in the next few years — and we gain nothing by removing Rubio from our roster. Conservatism is not dead, but it is in need of revival. There are few candidates out there who possess the potential to shepherd an intellectual and spiritual resurgence of the Republican party (and, by association, all its cantankerous electoral allies) through the devastation that will be left in the wake of two terms of Obama.
Perhaps that devastation will also include two terms of Hillary Clinton, if we can’t get our act together and stop eating our own over every policy disagreement.
God help us.