It’s hard not to notice that the Republican Party is going through a bit of an identity crisis. One portion of the GOP supports a shady businessman famous for hosting a stale reality TV show and for verbally abusing everyone but his most ardent supporters. Another is backing the most hated lawmaker in Congress. Luckily, Republicans have more than two feasible Presidential candidates to choose from this election year.
The third portion of the GOP is finally beginning to rally behind Marco Rubio following his better than expected finish in the Iowa Caucus. Rubio happens to be young, eloquent, brilliant, passionate, and the candidate I am supporting for President.
Like Barack Obama in 2008, Rubio is running as a relative newcomer to national politics. While he has only spent five years in Washington, those five years have been packed with achievements and experiences that have prepared him well to take on the burdens of the presidency.
Two summers ago, Rubio played a vital role in passing tough reforms to the VA hospital system, surprisingly working alongside Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. He also led the push to pass the Girls Count act, a bipartisan bill targeting human trafficking. And in 2013 he was one of the key Senators that almost negotiated a solution to the generational issue of comprehensive immigration reform. While Rubio has since changed his rhetoric on immigration, his actual policy proposal still includes a path to citizenship.
Rubio also has substantial foreign policy experience. As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee he led the movement to place sanctions on Venezuela and Hezbollah for human rights abuses. He has also been an outspoken and articulate proponent for containing Chinese influence in Asia and Russia’s power in Europe. Rubio has a command of foreign policy unmatched by anyone in the field except for the error-prone Hillary Clinton.
Unlike Obama, Rubio actually had substantial governmental experience at the state and local level before his rise to national prominence with a victory over a sitting governor in a Florida’s 2010 Senate race. Rubio spent ten years in the Florida House, including a stint as Speaker. He is also one of the few presidential candidates ever to serve in local government. In the late 1990s Rubio served a term as City Commissioner of his hometown, West Miami.
At only 44 years old Rubio is the youngest candidate in a race full of relics from a bygone age (I’m looking at you Hillary, Donald, and Bernie). He is acutely aware of our generation’s many problems because unlike any of the other candidates he has actually experienced them with us. Rubio grew up as the son of two Cuban immigrants. His father worked as a bartender and his mother was both a maid and a store clerk. He never received an Ivy League education or a million dollar loan to start a real estate business and he hasn’t been sheltered from the realities of a normal American life since the 1980s. In fact, Rubio just finished paying off the last of his college debt in 2012. At that point he was amazingly two years into his term as Senator.
Rubio hasn’t just passively observed the struggles Millennials face; he has actively attempted to pass legislation to resolve them. Rubio has put forward comprehensive plans to tackle college costs and student debt repayment. He’s also partnered with Democrats to write legislation to tackle Title IX issues. Finally, Rubio has shown a willingness to engage with the tech industry to protect startups like Uber and Airbnb from being regulated out of existence.
The best thing about Rubio, though, is that unlike the other two candidates running for the GOP nomination, he can actually beat Hillary Clinton. Rubio’s background has given him an incredible opportunity to expand the Republican Party and to help it realize its longtime goal of inclusivity. Rubio often claims that he understands the American Dream because he has lived it. If he keeps sharing this message, he can tap into the hope for opportunity that drove so many to support Obama in 2008. All Rubio needs to do is avoid getting caught up in the toxic and divisive rhetoric that has fuelled the GOP race so far. If Rubio can maintain his rightfully earned status as a bipartisan, hopeful, and down to earth candidate, he should easily beat a damaged Hillary Clinton in November.
I realize most Swarthmore students are not looking to support a Republican candidate for President and I likely won’t be able to persuade you to change their minds, but if you are a moderate, a libertarian, or a hardcore conservative, the junior Senator from Florida is the candidate for you. As Rubio boldly stated in his announcement speech, “This election is a generational choice about what kind of country we want to be.” I know he is the best choice for those that wish to see a thriving America filled with vigor and new ideas. Rubio has the personal experience, the vision, and the humility to make this country lead the world in the twenty-first century.
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