Although Broward County election results saw a dead split between Marco Rubio and party-line pushover Kendrick Meek in the three-way race for U.S. Senator, statewide Rubio swept 49% of the vote, leaving Meek and Gov. Charlie Crist with less than 30% each. Rubio's strongest showing was in northern counties like Clay, where he garnered 70% of the vote. But he also pulled ahead in Miami-Dade, thanks to his status as a Cuban-American as well as a conservative.
And while Rubio's policies reflect the usual Republican obstructionism toward many policies that
might hinder short-term corporate interests, he's got a powerful personal narrative which he uses to argue that a government safety net is unnecessary for those with the will -- and the divine guidance -- to succeed in America.
Here's Rubio at a meeting of the Conservative Political Action Committee in February, when he emerged onto the national stage as a young minority poster boy for an old, white party:
See, I was not born to a wealthy or connected family. And yet I have never felt limited by the circumstances of my birth. I have never once felt that there was something I couldn't do because of who my parents were or weren't. Now, why is it that I've been able to accomplish the things that my grandfather could not? Why did my dreams have the chance that his didn't?
The answer is simple. Because I am privileged. I am privileged to be a citizen of the single greatest society in all of human history. There's never been a nation like the United States, ever. It begins with the principles of our founding documents, principles that recognize that our rights come from God, not from our government -- principles that recognize that because all of us are equal in the eyes of our creator, all life is sacred at every stage of life.
Rubio preaches with the immigrant's zeal for the self-made man rising through the American ranks, and doesn't want us to get any "handouts" along the way. Or kill any babies.
When Rand Paul gave his victory speech last night, he invoked American "exceptionalism" -- but framed it in a way that gives credit to its human inhabitants, which would make his namesake Ayn Rand proud:
America -- America -- is exceptional, but it is not inherently so. America is exceptional because we embraced freedom, because we enshrined it in our documents and because we have lived and fought for the principles of freedom.
Not so for Rubio -- our special status comes straight from God. In fact, in what must sound like angels singing to the Christian Right, he doesn't even allow us the choice of whether to be governed by his God. Front and center in his victory speech:
We are all children of a powerful and great God. [applause] ...Things are not always going to end up the way you want them. His will will not always be yours. But I promise you this: No matter what you get in life, He'll give you the strength to go through it.
So we're left not to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, but to let a certain deity do the heavy lifting. And that deity, of course, opposes climate legislation, wants to require ultrasounds before abortions, thinks fondly of firearms, and favors a "market-based" healthcare system.
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In Rubio's CPAC meditation on American greatness and his Cuban-exile family, he raised an alternative scenario:
And even today with the problems that we face, who would you rather be? Which country would you trade places with? Just remember, an afterthought, when was the last time that you heard news accounts about a boatload of American refugees arriving on the shores of another country?
Well, here's one answer: