Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida spoke at the Reagan Library Tuesday night. Rubio describes himself as being “born and raised in Ronald Reagan’s America” and then goes on from strength to strength from there. This speech is a tour de force, in which Rubio lays out his vision of conservatism (it empowers people to catch up), describes his ideas about the proper role of government, and then inadvertently makes the case for cloning — because we need 99 more senators like Marco Rubio, along with a House full of Marco Rubios and a President Rubio too.
We have the opportunity –- within our lifetime –- to actually craft a proper role for government in our nation that will allow us to come closer than any Americans have ever come to our collective vision of a nation where both prosperity and compassion exist side-by-side.
To do that, we must begin by embracing certain principles that are absolutely true. Number one: the free enterprise system does not create poverty. The free enterprise system does not leave people behind.
People are poor and people are left behind because they do not have access to the free enterprise system because something in their lives or in their community has denied them access to the free enterprise system. All over the world this truism is expressing itself every single day. Every nation on the Earth that embraces market economics and the free enterprise system is pulling millions of its people out of poverty. The free enterprise system creates prosperity, not denies it.
Watching this speech, it’s easy to see why Marco Rubio terrifies the Democrats. He is everything they are not, and everything they object to Americans, and especially minorities, being.
And on the compassion side of the ledger, which is also important to Americans, and it’s important that we remind ourselves of that. I don’t really like labels in politics, but I will gladly accept the label of conservatism. Conservatism is not about leaving people behind. Conservatism is about empowering people to catch up, to give them the tools at their disposable that make it possible for them to access all the hope, all the promise, all the opportunity that America offers. And our programs to help them should reflect that.
Now, yes, there are people that cannot help themselves. And those folks we will always help. We are too rich and prosperous a nation to leave them to fend for themselves. But all the others that can work should be given the means of empowering themselves to enter the marketplace and the workforce. And our programs and our policies should reflect that. We do need a safety net, but it cannot be a way of life. It must be there to help those who have fallen, to stand up and try again.