Press Releases

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) joined Congressman Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH) for a conversation on what’s next for the Republican Party and how to build a conservative agenda that appeals to a multi-ethnic, working-class base. The conversation was hosted by American Compass and moderated by Oren Cass. See a lightly edited transcript of Rubio’s remarks below and watch the full conversation here
 
On today’s conservatism: 
 
“I think by and large, the majority of Americans believe that the federal government shouldn't be involved in everything, that there are some important things the federal government has to do, like protect us from foreign countries that seek to do us harm, and things of that nature. But by and large, that's how they feel about it. And that's really been the core of conservatism for a long time. It's limited government and federalism, the notion that it's at your local and state level, where to the extent government needs to be involved, it should be involved and be more effective.”
 
“That said, it's not an anti-government message. In essence, there are things that they believe, and I think rightfully so, that our government exists to serve us. To serve people. Not to serve the market, not to serve the international community. To the extent that working with the international community is good for Americans, they're for it. To the extent that a vibrant market is good for the creating and the kinds of jobs that people need, they're for it. I'm for it. I believe in the free market. I reject and abhor socialism, I think it's a terrible way to organize your economy. But in those instances, in which the most efficient outcome, which is what the market is going to give you, is not good for America, they think we should do something about it. For example, it may be more efficient to make protective equipment for a pandemic or pharmaceuticals in China, I'm not sure most people agree that's in our national interest.
 
“It may be the most efficient outcome for all kinds of industrial capacity to relocate overseas, but it's not in our national interest to have entire communities gutted, thousands upon thousands of good paying stable jobs wiped out. And the nation lose an industrial capacity. And it's those instances where they want government to, when it has to choose between the efficiency and the national interest, to choose the national interest. And I think that's the part that really is important.”
 
On woke politics: 
 
“I think there's this growing sense in this country — and I don't think this is just on the conservative side — that it's gone too far on the sort of woke political correctness, careful what you say stuff. 
 
“Ironically, as I pointed out yesterday, there is one ethnic minority group that it is acceptable to attack on Twitter and call names and vilify. At this moment, that happens to be Cuban Americans. For some reason, you can say anything you want about them on Twitter, because they happen to have voted for Trump. 
 
“You shouldn't be rude, nasty to people, you should avoid saying things that are unnecessarily irritating or offensive. But we've gotten to the point now where you can't even hold a comedy show on a college campus. You can't even invite speakers from different perspectives. Listen, it's difficult to even accept an invitation to speak at any commencement ceremony because you know there'll be five or ten woke students who are going to make a spectacle out of it and ruin it for everybody else.
 
“So I think it's gone too far in that direction. And a lot of people are just tired of being policed. And now I'm going to see some of the hypocrisy that emerges in terms of how words are policed online, social media and the like, it only adds fuel to that fire. So there's most certainly an element to that. 
 
“I think most Americans are not ideological in the sense of a think tank or so forth, but I do think they have a tremendous amount of common sense and don't like crazy ideas and crazy stuff like let's get rid of the police department, and instead when some guy's holding a knife to his wife's throat, let's send in a counselor to speak to them. Or let's go ahead and shut down and put in jail someone who dares show up to work at a small business, but let's raise a bunch of money to bail out arsonists and looters. I think people look at that and say that's nuts, that's crazy. And there's people out there on the political left that identify with those positions I've just outlined. And I think some of that comes across as well.”
 
On industrial policy and multi-ethnic conservatism: 
 
“But the other, I would say, is industrial policy and something that people on the right have often looked at as the government taking over industry. That's not what it involves. It does involve saying, "Look, we can't just be a country that invents things." It's great that we do, and it's great we have people that can design things and do all kinds of innovation on software and on technology side. But ultimately, if you're not the country that makes those things, eventually you won't be the one that invents it either. Those two things are interrelated. Not to mention, you can't have a strong country, unless you have millions of stable, good paying jobs that allow people, not necessarily to get rich, but to live stable, secure, prosperous lives, retire with dignity, live in a safe community and give their kids the chance at a better life.
 
“If you don't have that, that's the glue that holds society together. And if your economy isn't producing that kind of employment, you're going to have big problems, big societal problems that'll manifest themselves, sociologically and politically. And I think we see that today, and one of the interesting dividing lines in American politics, in the last year, has been between the people who get paid to work from home and are all for shutdowns and the people who, if they don't go to work in person, don't have a job, don't have a business and can't get paid. And so it's basically been a year of people who get paid to work from home on Zoom, lecturing the people who don't, about why everything needs to be shut down. And it's creating real tension that I’ve seen brew into a bunch of different things.”
 
On balancing conservatism and the free market: 
 
“The notion that we have a truly libertarian free market is a myth. Anytime you apply rules or laws or conditions on an economy, the economy is going to behave according to that. So we have rules and laws right now, in many cases, they just incentivize the wrong thing. They incentivize, for example, taking the money your company made, and rather than reinvesting it in a new capacity to help that company grow and create new jobs, oftentimes, the incentive is let's just use it to buy back shares to increase the value of the shares so that our shareholders are happy. There's nothing immoral about it, there's nothing wrong about that, I'm not pretending that we make it illegal. I'm just saying, why do we incentivize that? What we should be incentivizing is if you do that, that's fine, and we'll treat it this way, you do a dividend. But if you take that money and actually invest it in building a new factory in America, that's where the incentive and the benefit will come from.
 
“Likewise, on the critical industries, we have to wake up to the reality that if you're in the pharmaceutical industry or the rare earth minerals industry, you're not competing with a private Chinese company, you're competing with a nation state that is subsidizing and backing that company, and ultimately you're going to lose that battle. They're prepared to wait you out, they're prepared to deny you access to that market while they have an exclusive, and they're prepared to steal your intellectual property to replace you. So we have to acknowledge that if there are some industries that we want to have in either domestic or ally capacity, then we're going to have to do some things to incentivize that being located in the US not by government owning it, not by flooding them with money, but just by ensuring that the way we tax things and the way we regulate things are aligned appropriately, according to those sense.
 
“To the extent government is involved in our economy already, let's make sure that those incentives are pro-America as opposed to what we have in some cases today, incentivizing behavior that at the end day is not in our national interest.”
 
On Nike’s hypocritical efforts to lobby against the Xinjiang Forced Labor Bill: 
 
“I think the hypocrisy really sets people off, right? ... So here it was Nike everyday, bombarding us with all of these messages of Colin Kaepernick, whose right to speak,I've defended it. Whether I agree with some of the things he says or not, he has every right as an American to speak as he wants. But they bombard us with these messages at the same time as they are up here [in Washington] actively lobbying against a bill that targets forced labor in China. And so you look at that and say, well, how can the same company bombard us with these messages here and try to stigmatize people in this country? But you're lobbying here against forced labor in China, because that happens to be perhaps a source of cheap products for you. I mean, people see that stuff and say, this is nuts. This is ridiculous.”