Press Releases

Idea Man Rubio Envisions a 'Common Good' GOP

By Philip Wegmann

March 4, 2021

RealClearPolitics

[I]n this economy, where the majority of Americans believe the next generation will be worse off than their parents, and at this moment, when Republicans are struggling with their post-Trump identity, Rubio has an answer. It is called “common good” conservatism, an agenda to make the GOP “the party of common-sense wisdom and working-class values.” If he runs for president again, the country will decide what to make of the renewed Rubio, the populist ideas man on the right.

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Rubio’s idea certainly has an academic quality, but it is also deeply personal in that it challenges the free-market fundamentalism long embedded in the DNA of modern conservatism. 

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[Rubio] confronts an entrenched status quo skeptical of government action. The free market is just fine, thank you very much, say his libertarian and conservative critics (when they’re being polite). He believes the opposite. He thinks the “American carnage” that Donald Trump described is real.

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"Generally speaking,” [Rubio] explains, “the free market should decide where investment flows and where decisions are made.” But he is questioning GOP orthodoxy. “Every now and then, the market is going to reach an outcome that's bad for Americans or bad for America,” he says. “At that point, as a policymaker my loyalty is not to the market; my loyalty is to the American people.”

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“So my argument is that we have to have a capitalist economy,” Rubio explains, “but it has to be a capitalist economy guided by the principle that the market exists to serve the people, not the people to serve the market.” 

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[T]he application of [Rubio’s] common-good conservatism to actionable policy, has centered around improving life for working-class families and, in turn, bolstering an American economy threatened by a rising China. On these twin fronts, Rubio has been prodigious. 

He has plenty of other ideas. Some of them are wonky, and most require a more muscular federal government. New thinking is required, Rubio insists, because the Republican Party is undergoing a realignment...

Republicans can ignore the rumblings… But this would be a mistake, says Newt Gingrich…  “What the country wants is a problem-solving, solution-oriented conservatism that recognizes you can use civil society, free enterprise, and classic traditional values to create a far better future.”

Rubio has that vision, Gingrich believes, one that flows naturally through Ronald Reagan and fulfills his own 1994 “Contract With America.” 

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The [Paycheck Protection Program] Rubio helped create was perhaps the perfect confluence of the senator’s thinking… The party of Ronald Reagan spent big, and Rubio helped mail the checks. At the end of his tenure as chairman, the program had helped support as many as 55 million jobs during the pandemic, a number that included up to 4.5 million in manufacturing jobs. According to Republicans, it was a smashing success. 

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His common-good philosophy has plenty of potential answers, and Rubio hopes that by enacting such an agenda, Republicans can become “the party of common-sense wisdom and working-class values.” 

...Rubio says he will focus on two things in the immediate future. His job in the opposition and getting reelected to the Senate in 2022. He has plans, and he is good at teaching them to others. His future, and the future of his party, could very well depend on whether fellow Republicans listen.

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