Florida Sen. Marco Rubio bills himself as the 'American Dream' candidate for president. Playing on the immigrant status of his parents who emigrated to the U.S. from Fulgencio Batista's Cuba in 1956, Rubio casts himself as the candidate who best understands the meaning of the American Dream and who is best able to restore America as the land of opportunity for everyone.
Young ( 43 ), articulate, passionate, Latino, the senator presents himself as a fresh breeze in a Republican presidential field of 20 declared and undeclared candidates headed by Jeb Bush, Rubio's one-time mentor.
"My parents came to the United States in 1956. The country they found was truly a land of opportunity, where hardworking people with grade school educations could afford a home, a car, and college for their kids. A country where maids and bartenders could raise doctors, lawyers, small-business owners, and maybe even a U.S. senator. That was the American Dream. … Yet today, I look around and see the American Dream on life support." ( Overview to his book American Dreams: Restoring Economic Opportunity for Everyone, January 2015. )
In developing this pitch of himself as the American Dream candidate, Rubio links this theme to guns:
"I've always believed that the Second Amendment is about much more than the right to bear arms. At its core, the Second Amendment is about the American Dream. … That's one reason I, myself, have a concealed weapons permit. I have an A rating from the NRA, and recently, I introduced legislation to restore Second Amendment rights in the District of Columbia." ( marcorubio.com/issues )
It should also be noted here that Rubio voted against a bill brokered by senators Joe Manchin ( D-West Virginia. ) and Pat Toomey ( R-Pennsylvania ) requiring background checks for guns purchased online and at gun shows. Sen. Rubio also voted against banning high-capacity magazine clips of more than 10 bullets. ( ontheissues.org/ )
Given the high incidence of gun violence against civilians and police in D.C. and other U.S. cities, and given Rubio's position that gun control laws don't work because criminals always find ways to get guns, CBS's Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer countered: "Criminals don't follow the laws on burglary and on murder and on auto theft. And I think most people would say those laws are fairly effective." ( huffingtonpost.com/politics Zach Carter blog 04/14/2013 )
In reviewing Sen. Rubio's American Dreams book and his position statements on the Marco Rubio for President website ( marcorubio.com ), I did not see creative approaches on the most serious problems facing our nation.
In the past, the senator opposed simplistic tax solutions such as the sequestration tax cuts that reduced spending across all federal agencies. This past April, however, Rubio signed the Grover Norquist Taxpayer Protection Pledge which "is a written commitment to the American people to 'oppose and veto any and all efforts to increase taxes.'" ( Americans for Tax Reform website April 28, 2015. ) This pledge combined with his support of a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution demands that the senator present to us an economic policy that demonstrates how he can achieve his goals without raising taxes. It is hard to see this pledge as anything other than an election gimmick.
On civil rights for sexual minorities, Sen. Rubio comments:
"You have to have a ridiculous reading of the U.S. constitution to reach the conclusion that people have a right to marry someone of the same sex. … They [advocates of same-sex marriage] want to stigmatize … anyone who disagrees with them as haters. … I believe, as do a significant percentage of Americans, that the institution of marriage, an institution that existed before government, that existed before laws, that institution should remain in our laws recognized as the union of one man and one woman." ( CBN interview marcorubio.com )
Sen. Rubio's assertion that the institution of marriage as the union of one man and one woman exists prior to all government and all laws is an astonishing claim for which he presents no historical, legal, anthropological, or philosophical argument or evidence. One wonders how he would explain Old Testament practices of one man married to many wives or contemporary Islamic practices or polygamy anywhere, not to mention other forms of sexual-social relations.
Finally, prior to his current run for the Republican nomination for president, Sen. Rubio worked on comprehensive immigration reform legislation. Now he has withdrawn his support from such legislation and his website avoids all discussion of immigration except for these four words: "modernize our immigration laws."
It seems that the Marco Rubio American Dream is not for everyone.
Nick Patricca is professor emeritus at Loyola University Chicago, president of Chicago Network and playwright emeritus at Victory Gardens Theater.