Last Tuesday, after a fierce campaign and despite engagement of supporters from both sides of the political spectrum, Marco Rubio lost his home state of Florida and all of its 99 delegates to Donald Trump. Following this decisive loss, Rubio suspended his campaign for the Republican nomination for President of the United States. Three remain in the running, including Trump, Ted Cruz and John Kasich, out of whom only Trump and Cruz have a mathematical chance of securing the necessary number of delegates. Following Rubio’s defeat, I believe I can make two claims: the establishment Republican party is dead, or at least dormant for this cycle, and Ted Cruz will be the Republican nominee.
Ever since this election got underway, I have supported Marco Rubio because I believed he had the best chance at uniting a fractured Republican party as well as expanding the party to promote a positive conservative message to millions of Americans. He is an exceptional speaker, the best political communicator since Reagan and has a life story that exemplifies the claim that regardless of where you come from, you can make it in America. It wasn’t just his story or phenomenal speaking skills that amassed the following of millions of Americans, particularly younger people. His message expressed a level of optimism and hope for the American dream and experience that we had not seen in years. While the vast majority of other candidates would tell everyone what was wrong with America and how this country had lost in recent years, Marco Rubio acknowledged and celebrated what was right with America, exemplifying everything we ought to do to improve upon this country for the next generation.
On Super Tuesday, I caucused at my home precinct in South Minneapolis where turnout not only broke records but dwarfed the level of participation commonly seen at a Republican event in Minneapolis. When I was there, I noticed something I had not anticipated: the majority of people in the room were younger couples, many of whom had brought their very young children. To my surprise, people under the age of 35 outnumbered retirees.
Caucuses allow for attendees to speak on behalf of the candidate they are supporting in hopes of swaying others. Three different young couples, two with children, all spoke on behalf of Marco Rubio for very similar reasons. They hadn’t really given politics or government much thought in their lives until this point, but raising children had encouraged them to pay more attention and participate as a means of bettering the country for the next generation.
I think the speeches given by those young parents were the most powerful because they had strong reasons to support a specific candidate over the others. Marco Rubio believed America is at its strongest when the middle class and, more specifically, families are at their strongest. He put forth a plan for student loans and college costs, a family tax credit, and a jobs program that would employ millions of Americans and lead to more high-skilled, high-paying jobs.
People noticed these policy goals, and they also noticed the optimism and positivity Rubio showed about the future, something Americans need at this time after years of divided government and divisive rhetoric. Rubio is a family man who made a name for himself after coming from nothing, and that journey is inspirational and worthy of teaching our children. We need a President who can also serve as a role model for young people, a positive role model people could aspire to be like. Donald Trump is by no means that role model, and many Americans can clearly see that. He has been disparaging toward women, minorities, the disabled, opponents, you name it. These are not characteristics we should support in the leader of our country and national figurehead. Marco Rubio was the opposite of Trump, which is why it is so unfortunate that he has left the presidential race.
Earlier, I made the claim that the establishment Republican party has officially gone dormant in the 2016 election cycle. Marco Rubio was the establishment’s last hope at nominating a conservative with a positive message. John Kasich remains in the race, but it is evident that he has next to no chance at securing the nomination, even in a brokered convention. This leaves Trump and Cruz, the latter of whom has been hated by the establishment since he was elected to the Senate.
Ted Cruz is just as dangerous to the party and the country as Trump because of his relentless opposition to compromise in government. This is the man who played a critical role in the 2013 in U.S. government shutdown and has stated his plan to defeat ISIS involves “carpet bombing them into oblivion.” After all the atrocious acts of ISIS, most recently the appalling attack on Brussels, it sounds appealing to many to use as much military power as possible to attack them, but we have to be more rational and strategic than the relentless bombing of countries in an already unstable region. Carpet bombing the Middle East will kill many ISIS militants, but it will also kill civilians and cause widespread panic and violence throughout the region at the hands of the U.S. government. I don’t see this as a solution; I see it as a great recruitment tool for ISIS. Don’t get me wrong, I think we need a strong military presence in the area, and we need to start using military force, but “carpet bombing,” as suggested by Cruz, and “bombing the shit out of them,” as proposed by Trump, simply won’t do.
With Rubio out of the race and Trump holding onto his 40 percent of voters, Ted Cruz will be able to rally the support of the anti-Trump movement and start to win more states. If it goes to a brokered convention, the party will coalesce around him rather than Trump, which is why I argue Ted Cruz will be the Republican nominee.
As for Marco Rubio, he has a bright future in politics ahead of him. Although he is not running for reelection in Florida, if the Democrats win in 2016, which seems increasingly likely, Rubio will have a clear path to victory in 2020. For the last six months, I have been honored to work for Rubio and his campaign. It has been a privilege, to say the least, and I wouldn’t have changed anything. Losing sucks, but Marco’s time will come, and I will proudly stand behind him. When I look back on this election, I’ll be proud to say I supported an excellent candidate and a great man. Thank you, Marco Rubio, for all you’ve done for this country.