Rubio CPAC Speech Offers a Reformed Conservatism for the 21st Century

There were lots of old, tired dogs that thankfully didn’t bark during Marco Rubio’s CPAC speech: President Obama, Obamacare, and the stimulus for starters. Made it a lot more intellectually rich. Instead of a macro, Washington-centric critique, Rubio went micro. He looked at 2013 America from the perspective of middle-income families under real pressure from a stagnant economy, globalization, technological unemployment, and the rising cost of education and healthcare. (Get ready to hear this phrase a lot from Rubio going forward: “Cost of living.”)

Oh, and that there’s often no meaningful help on the way from a cronyism-plagued political system. (He’s looking at you Wall Street.) The speech also had a Burkean flavor highlighting the obligations Americans owe each other, and how they fulfill them together through civil society rather than just through “Life of Julia” government programs. Less a speech born from readings of Atlas Shrugged and Coolidge than one seemingly informed by books such as Coming Apart, Race Against the Machine, and What to Expect When No One’s Expecting – not to mention a welcome alertness to today’s economic reality rather than that of the 1980s and 1990s.

Rubio isn’t yet offering a policy agenda worthy of his message, but first things first. Rubio seems to recognize and understand some of America’s biggest problems and that dealing with them requires timeless conservative principles applied in modern and timely ways.

  1. Scott R

    He also had a powerful defense of an energetic America remaining the world’s order maker — a coming back to earth for those who think the Paul filibuster somehow changed the world re the Republican party’s posture on foreign policy.

    Our three-legged stool remains intact. Good. 

  2. Michael Hornback

    Yes! His philosophical foundation is exactly what we need going forward. It is always refreshing to hear him speak. It’s a cold glass of water to a parched mouth. :)Want to win in 2016? Easy! Rubio/Martinez must hold up our flag. Let’s do this.

  3. Crow

     

    Scott Reusser: Our three-legged stool remains intact. Good. 

    I’ve only read the speeech so far, but I like what I’ve read.

    However, I am getting an uneasy feeling about the tone of some of what I’ve seen from CPAC–Rubio, who was elected in a Tea Party wave and who has opposed go along to get along choices in Washington (see  his ‘save the the whole house or it will all burn down’ speech on the floor)  seems to be getting something of a cool reception from some of our base as of late.

    It is as though, because his rhetoric is optimistic and because he is talking big picture vision and not simply attacking, he is not considered strident enough.

  4. Scott R
    Crow’s Nest:  

    Scott Reusser: Our three-legged stool remains intact. Good. 

    I’ve only read the speeech so far, but I like what I’ve read.

    However, I am getting an uneasy feeling about the tone of some of what I’ve seen from CPAC–Rubio, who was elected in a Tea Party wave and who has opposed go along to get along choices in Washington (see  his ‘save the the whole house or it will all burn down’ speech on the floor)  seems to be getting something of a cool reception from some of our base as of late.

    It is as though, because his rhetoric is optimistic and because he is talking big picture vision and not simply attacking, he is not considered strident enough.

    A worry I have too. Rubio, I think, is trying to thread that toughest of all needles: Having a voice in actual governance — including, yeah, compromises — and preserving cred with the base. Ryan’s been the only other D.C. Republican to pull that off. It’ll be interesting to see if Rubio can too.

    A couple GOP governors have managed — notably Jindal and Walker — but it’s easier outside D.C.

  5. Underwood
    Crow’s Nest:  

    I’ve only read the speeech so far, but I like what I’ve read.

    However, I am getting an uneasy feeling about the tone of some of what I’ve seen from CPAC–Rubio … seems to be getting something of a cool reception from some of our base as of late. · 3 hours ago

    Just watched/listened to the speech, and the crowd seemed enthusiastic.

    Rubio strikes me as a very talented public speaker. Water incidents aside, his delivery is natural and spontaneous — not something Republican pols are known for, to say the least.

    Does anyone else wonder whether his youthfulness (if not his youth) might be problem in a presidential run?

  6. Leigh
    Scott Reusser

    A worry I have too. Rubio, I think, is trying to thread that toughest of all needles: Having a voice in actual governance — including, yeah, compromises — and preserving cred with the base. Ryan’s been the only other D.C. Republican to pull that off. It’ll be interesting to see if Rubio can too.

    A couple GOP governors have managed — notably Jindal and Walker — but it’s easier outside D.C. · 1 hour ago

    It’s easier for the governors because they are actually implementing policies rather than voting on them and talking about them (which is about all a legislative minority can do).  No one doubts that Walker means what he says because they are seeing him do it and seeing actual results.

  7. Spin

    What an encouraging speech.  I wish more Republicans were at least talking these points.  

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