"The Debate is not about the stimulus, the tax code, or the immigration laws. The debate before us is as it has always been - what is the role of government in the lives of the American people."
Senator Marco Rubio
As any great athlete, celebrity personality or politician knows, to be compared to the person most admired and emulated is both flattering and terrifying. To be noticed for similar qualities is one thing-to be held to a standard of stellar achievement or a legendary legacy is another. Such is the challenge which faces the good-looking, articulate young Senator from Florida who just happens to be a philosophical conservative and a football star!
Marco Rubio has been casually compared to his childhood icon, Ronald Reagan, because of these qualities; however, after his introductory speech for Romney at the Republican National Convention, even die-hard Reaganites like me had to admit striking parallels between the two men. I was inspired and hopeful again after a long wait.
In June of 2012 Marco Rubio's memoir, An American Son, was released for publication and quickly hit the top of the New York Times bestseller list. Although fairly young to be writing his life story (he was born in 1971), this work is a good snapshot of how his parents and grandparents laid the foundation for the shaping of a life molded by a country not their own.
As immigrants from an unstable Cuba in the years leading up to the takeover by Fidel Castro, they had a unique perspective from which to view America. Ultimately, they made the most of the opportunity to work hard in order to provide their children the basis from which to become all they were meant to be.
Their personal sacrifice was a reflection of John Adam's words, "I studied politics and war so my children could study math and economics," and bore fruit. As one of four children, Marco graduated from college, went on to law school and was elected to the U.S. Senate before the age of 40.
As part of what I call the "generation come of age"-those who have passed from the know-it all days of their twenties and thirties into true adulthood- Rubio has not only forged a solid philosophy but has also established a conservative voting record as a state legislator and a US Senator from Florida.
(see voting history below)
Touting himself as a "movement conservative," he tends to take the debate on policy to a higher level. It is a debate which helped to define Ronald Reagan's presidency and has become his most enduring legacy as a conservative leader.
As the opening quote says-what lies before this generation is the definition and delivery of a government which resembles the blueprint drawn out by the founding fathers. Rubio stands on his conviction which puts this task at high priority. While not as glamorous as ending a World War or sending a man to the moon, this accomplishment could have more impact on the quality of life and the assurance of personal freedom than any single debate or issue faced in the present day.
Growing up in what he calls "Reagan's America", Rubio recalls a stark contrast between the textbook view of Communism under the Soviet Union and the "evil empire" image held by Ronald Reagan. Under the tutelage of a well-read grandfather who valued the freedoms his family now enjoyed in America, the young Rubio grew to embrace a deep respect for individual freedom and limited government intervention in the lives of citizens.
In a speech given in 2011 at the Reagan Presidential Library, he stated this, "I believe our future destiny as a people should be determined with a careful eye on history and a vigilant watch on the influences capable of eroding the natural rights of man endowed by their creator." He firmly supports Reagan's belief that Americans simply need the freedom to be Americans.
Rubio is a "Voice of Freedom" as he demonstrates a willingness to take on the establishment when it needs a jolt and to stand up to the rigidity of old-school conservatism when he feels it is stuck in the past. No other example than his stance on immigration policy showcases both his style and courage to stand up for what he believes is right.
His Dream Act offers the opportunity to gain a visa in order to pursue a college education. This would then open the door to a chance for motivated young people to fulfill a lifelong dream. Contrasting empowerment with entitlement, he carefully delineates between the devastation of a handout approach to a compassionate response to the realities faced by young person facing real poverty and deprivation-in short an opportunity much like the one he was given to live the American dream.
Regardless of how one views his ideas on immigration (the future of the Dream Act is still uncertain), it is difficult to ignore his desire to stay out of the rut of negativism, opposition and criticism. Instead, this young leader has chosen a path leading to alternatives, solutions and a visionary hope. Obviously to Rubio, all politics is local and personal and he is not afraid of risk. His is a voice which rings out with a conservative approach to difficult realities laced with imagination and vision.
"Without vision and hope, the people perish" states the ancient proverb. Marco Rubio is a light shining in the darkness and a voice crying out in the wilderness to lead the way into a free and prosperous future. His voice is a " Voice of Freedom" America needs to hear.