Introduced as the Republican lawmaker who “epitomizes our road to victories in 2014 and 2016,” Senator Marco Rubio sounded an optimistic note for the future of the conservative movement today at CPAC.
The American people “have not changed,” he told the assembled crowd. “What’s changed is the world around us.” A global economy and increased efficiency has taken its toll on American middle class, he said, but the “vast majority” of Americans are sympathetic to conservative values. Instead of being disillusioned with conservatism, he argued, they have become disillusioned with the political process in Washington, D.C.
“They think that one side is fighting for they people who have made it, and all the other side does is fight for government policies to protect the people who are struggling,” he said. “That is both our challenge and our opportunity, to be their voice.”
“There has to be a home and a movement in America for people who believe in limited government, constitutional principles, and a free-enterprise system, and that should be us,” the senator asserted.
Rubio outlined familiar conservative ideas focused on the middle class, such as pro-growth tax and energy policies, school choice, encouraging “career education,” and solving the nation’s debt crisis, a burden on the economy and future generations, without raising taxes. “There is no tax increase in the world that will solve our long-term debt problem,” he said.
But he rejected the criticism that Republicans lacked “new ideas” to solve the country’s problems. “We don’t need a new idea,” he told the crowd. “There is an idea, it’s called America, and it still works.”
“If you look at our government, you have a right to be pessimistic. But there’s the good news — our government has never been America,” he continued. “With all the bad news out there you can still find the tremendous promise of tomorrow in the everyday stories of our people.”
What’s at stake, Rubio observed, is far greater than the current political debate between the two parties on Capitol Hill. “The stakes are not just America,” he said, pointing to authoritarian efforts in China to “supplant us as the leading power in the world,” while our politicians are “bickering” about “what government’s role should be.”
“The question is, in the world that we will leave our children, what will be the dominant country in the world? What will be the bright, shining example for the world?” he asked. “That is what’s at stake. And I believe, no, I know that we will make the right choice.”
The full video of the senator’s appearance is after the jump.