News & Politics

The Conservative Case Against Marco Rubio

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call) (CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

Now that Marco Rubio appears to be rising in the polls, more members of the establishment are trying to convince voters that although they are supporting him, he really is profoundly conservative.

Looking at Rubio’s Liberty Score rating of 79%, it’s clear that he is indeed more conservative than most other members of the establishment, but that doesn’t make him the most principled and electable conservative in the race. In fact, a rating of 79% means they give him a C. That’s significantly better than Jeb Bush, but it’s not as impressive as the Rubio campaign and their enablers in the media (read: Fox News) would have you believe.

Additionally,  the very fact alone that the establishment is rallying around Rubio should give conservatives reason to pause.

When is the last time you saw the GOP’s establishment and their friends in the media endorse a real, principled conservative? These folks didn’t even support Ronald Reagan. This, even though he won the 1980 election with relative ease, after which he crushed his opponent in the election of 1984 by winning 49 states. The only reason the establishment at long last tolerated Reagan somewhat was that they hoped his establishmentarian vice president, George H.W. Bush, would eventually succeed him in 1988.

In the decades since, the establishment has continued to attack conservatives, calling them crazies, extremists and worse.

Shouldn’t we, then, take it with a huge grain of salt when these people now tell us they’re suddenly supporting a “real conservative”?

They’ve never done so. Why would they suddenly change?

Well, they haven’t. You see, Rubio might be more conservative than most establishmentarians, but on the issues that matter most, he’s truly one of them:

1. He’s pro-amnesty:
When Rubio ran for the Senate he promised Florida voters that he would always stand against amnesty, arguing that it would be horrendous for the country and that it would send the wrong message to immigrants, legal or illegal: it would teach them that breaking the law pays. He just couldn’t stand for that.

That principled stand lasted until he actually got to Washington, D.C. Once he was there, he quickly joined forced with the pro-amnesty crowd and tried to force amnesty down Americans’ throats. As Mark Levin explained on his radio show yesterday:

And that bill–and you can say Rubio is conservative in many respects–that bill, ladies and gentlemen, would have been a dagger in the heart of the United States. You never would have recognized this country again. That’s what Chuck Schumer was up to, that’s what Dick Durbin was up to. That’s what Lindsey Graham was up to. And that’s what Marco Rubio is up to.

The only reason Rubio, Schumer and the other radical pro-immigration crowd failed was because principled conservative senators like Ted Cruz, Mike Lee and Jeff Sessions fought against them… and won.

2. He’s for perpetual war:
Rubio pretends to be an expert on foreign policy, but he’s no such thing. He’s an expert on perpetual war. This is a guy who has never seen a military intervention he could not support. Libya, Syria, it doesn’t matter: invade, send ground troops, bombs away! With regards to foreign policy, Rubio simply is a Cuban-American version of Senator Lindsey Graham.


Quite frankly I don’t see a hell of a lot of distance between Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio. You know what’s going on in Libya today? Al-Qaeda is on the run, ISIS is on the run! Egypt is being threatened. Europe is being threatened. You know what is right across from the Mediterranean Sea? Europe, that’s right, right across from Tripoli.  Lindsey Graham, John McCain, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and, yes, even Marco Rubio–they have lit a light to this part of the world, they lit a match. No, I am not an isolationist, no, I am not Ron Paul, no, I am not Pat Buchanan. I am a conservative, Reaganite, strong defense hawk, but you don’t intervene in every situation.

A conservative does not. But Rubio does. Just like the other members of the establishment.

3. He’s for crony capitalism:
Remember how Ted Cruz was the only candidate with the courage to tell Iowa voters he’s against ethanol subsidies? Well, there’s a reason Rubio didn’t join him: the Florida senator is all about crony capitalism:

The latticework of loans and tariffs that make up the U.S. sugar program force Americans to pay about twice as much as the rest of the world for the sugar they eat, and few have benefited more from the industry subsidies than Pepe Fanjul and his family, whose company, American Sugar Refining, is the largest sugar-processing conglomerate in the world. The company’s American brands include Domino, Florida Crystals, Redpath, Tate & Lyle, and C&H. American Sugar Refining controls refineries by ownership or shareholder status in four states and six countries.

And the Fanjuls just so happen to be among Rubio’s staunchest supporters and fundraisers. Why do they love him so much? Glad you asked!

Rubio has remained a consistent, vocal supporter of the sugar subsidy during his rise to national prominence. Defenders compare the sugar industry in Florida to the ethanol industry in Iowa and the Midwest more broadly, and say that just as lawmakers from Iowa, including Republicans are virtually obliged to support the controversial Renewable Fuel Standard, so lawmakers from Florida are expected to support sugar subsidies. And Rubio has. At a Koch brothers’ Republican summit in August, Rubio gave a defense of the federal sugar program that left many in the audience of staunch free-marketeers scratching their heads. If the U.S. eliminates the program, he argued, “other countries will capture the market share, our agricultural capacity will be developed into real estate, you know, housing and so forth, and then we lose the capacity to produce our own food, at which point we’re at the mercy of a foreign country for food security.”

As National Review‘s Windsor Mann wrote last year, Rubio’s line of reasoning doesn’t make any sense:

We have as much reason to grow our own sugar as Lithuania does to make its own cars: none. The fact is that other countries produce certain things more cheaply and efficiently than we do. That is why we trade with them.

Rubio’s versed deeply enough in conservative thought to understand that, but he just doesn’t care. That’s because he’s not a principled conservative but a warmongering and amnesty-loving crony capitalist. It goes without saying that he’s much less worse — even much better, which isn’t necessarily the same thing — than Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, so conservatives should certainly pull the lever for him if he ends up the Republican nominee, but it doesn’t make sense for them to do so while there are still solid conservatives in the race — like Ted Cruz, who has a Liberty Score of 97%, an A.