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Rubio Delivers Remarks at Values Voter Summit

Oct 15, 2013 | Press Releases

“But you cannot give up on America. And you cannot give up on the American Dream. We cannot allow our fears and our disappointments to lead us into silence and into inaction. Because this country that God has blessed us with, it is worth fighting for.”

Remarks At The Values Voter Summit
Senator Marco Rubio
Washington, D.C.
October 11, 2013

Senator Rubio: With all this fighting that’s going on in Washington these days, my biggest fear is that we are losing focus on the biggest issues facing our country. That’s the growing sense of so many people across this country: that we are losing control of our nation and, more importantly, that we are losing what we’ve come to know as the American Dream.

Why do people feel this way? Because millions of them have been out of a job for months and maybe years at a time. Because millions more are trapped in jobs that quite frankly don’t pay enough to live off of. When these people hear on the news that the economy is recovering, when they hear on the news that unemployment is down 0.1 percent somewhere, it makes them angry. Because maybe Wall Street has recovered, but for millions of Americans, they’re still stuck with jobs that do not pay enough to make ends meet.

Making all this worse is that while their paychecks are stable or going down, their bills keep going up. Ask single parents and working families how much they’re paying every month for childcare. Ask the thousands upon thousands of students who are saddled with student loan debt. I know that.  When I graduated, I had over $100,000 in student loans, which I paid off last year. How do people make it through when they face this stuff? You know, I faced a rough patch like that.  A couple of years after Jeanette and I got married, we faced a difficult moment. We got rid of a car. We moved in with her mom for six months. Sound familiar?  From time to time, we’ve had to do that. But we’ve done that temporarily. Now you have millions and millions of people who feel like they may have to do that as a new way of life. So they ask themselves, “Is this the new normal? Is this the way things are going to be in this country from now on?”

That’s what people are wondering these days – that maybe the American Dream will never be what it used to be. So we ask ourselves, “Why is this happening?” There are a lot reasons. Globalization has changed the nature our economy.  You have all these jobs that have gone overseas because of cheaper labor costs. Millions of jobs have been replaced by machines. Go to your local grocery store.  There are less cashiers and more of those self-checkout counters. Too many people never got the education or skills they needed for the jobs that the new economy is creating. And big government is keeping our economy from creating the new middle class jobs that people desperately need to live the kind of life they want. All these things are contributing to our challenges. But one of the major causes of it, I think, does not get enough attention. And that is the fundamental truth that you cannot have a strong economy, if it is not built on strong values.

No one is born with these values. These values have to be taught. And the government can’t teach them. These values have to be taught by strong families. And they have to be reinforced by institutions like churches, synagogues, coaches and mentors.  By civil society. But we have countless children in this country today that are not being taught these values, because our society is breaking down and because our families are falling apart. And as a result, our country is paying a terrible, terrible price.

Now the liberal answer to all this is just have the government spend more money. Look, there is a role for government, but no matter how much money the government spends, it will never be able to take the place of parents and strong families. Children born into broken families with no access to positive role models and bombarded by a popular culture that glamorizes violence and irresponsibility, these children are going to struggle to succeed no matter how much government spends. This is a serious problem. Millions of our people are going to get left behind if we do not fix this.

So what can those of us in public service do about all this? The first thing we have to do is we must empower parents and we must empower civil society. That’s why I believe, as most of you do, that every single parent in America has the right and should have the opportunity to send their children to the school of their choice. Second, we need to make sure our government programs encourage work, not dependence. We support a safety net to serve those who cannot help themselves, to serve those who have fallen to get back up on their own two feet to try again. But our people want jobs, they don’t want a safety net as a way of life. That why these programs all need to be reformed, so that they encourage work and education. And they need to be reformed to make sure they do not punish parents if they decide to get married. By this point, I had hoped someone would have heckled me so that I could sip some water.  That should get me through.

The third thing I think we really have to do, and this is perhaps most important, is: Our leaders have to stop ignoring the impact that culture is having on our nation. Let me tell you the reaction I get to that from some. Some say that this is nothing more than an effort to impose mine or your, or anybody’s religious values on others. This is not about imposing values, because these values don’t work unless you really believe them. And I’ve also been lectured, as many of you have, about how we need to stop talking about social issues if we want to win elections. But if we are serious about saving the American Dream, we can’t stop talking about these issues. We can’t stop talking about the importance of our values and our culture. We can’t stop talking about them because the moral well-being of our people is directly linked to their economic well-being. But today we see a rising tide of intolerance in America, intolerance towards those who cherish these values.

In this country, we still have millions of people who try to live by these values. The traditional values they cherish– hard work, responsibility, self-control, the belief that life does not revolve around us – who is harmed by these values? How does promoting these values hurt anyone? The millions of Americans who share these values are tired of being constantly told that they need to keep their opinions to themselves. On issue after issue, they are expected to be tolerant of others. But increasingly, our culture is intolerant of them. This is not about imposing our religion on anyone. In America you have the right to worship any way you choose. That’s why virtually every faith and every denomination on Earth has a presence in our land. You have a right to not believe in God at all. But I believe Jesus Christ is God. I believe He loves every single human being that has ever lived, no matter what they have done, even if they don’t believe in Him. That’s why He suffered a brutal death and He resurrected from the dead, to erase the sins that separate us from Him.

I respect the rights of those who do not share my beliefs. But to teach my faith to my children and to share it with anyone who will listen, that is my right too. In this country of ours, we have the right to our own beliefs and the responsibility to respect the differing views of others. But if we want to save our country, we must all realize that the breakdown of our culture is trapping millions of people in a cycle of poverty and dependence. And together we have to do something about it.

Let me close by saying that this dream of a better life, that we all share, it’s really the universal hope of people everywhere. For much of human history, most people were trapped in the circumstances of their birth. Whatever your parents did for a living, that’s what you were allowed to do. Picture that for a moment. Living in a society where what you were going to be in life was determined for you, before you were even born. No matter how hard you were willing to work, no matter how much talent you had, it didn’t matter because in that society, you were only allowed to go as far as your family before you. Picture for a moment living in a place like that. As Americans, that is unimaginable to us. But that’s been the human condition for almost all of human history. But America is special, because here, this nation was founded on a powerful and eternal truth: That every single one of us has the God given right to life, to liberty and to pursue happiness. And that’s why my parents came here. Because it was the only place on earth where people like them, born poor and disconnected from power, could achieve a better life. To be rewarded for your work and to be able to leave your children better off than yourself, this is what we call the American Dream. It is our identity as a people, and it is what makes this country exceptional.

I say this to you because I know so many of you are discouraged. I know so many people around this country are discouraged by the direction our nation is headed. I know so many of you are deeply disappointed about the way the last election turned out. And I know that many of you are increasingly scared that maybe we have lost or are losing our country.

But you cannot give up on America. And you cannot give up on the American Dream. We cannot allow our fears and our disappointments to lead us into silence and into inaction. Because this country that God has blessed us with, it is worth fighting for. This special place that we call home, it is worth saving. And I want you to know something. Despite everything that is going wrong in our country today, I believe with all my heart that God is not done with America yet. I believe with all my heart that God still destines for us an even better future and the opportunity to continue to serve as an inspiration to the world.

And so I would just close by saying we need to continue to pray. That God will give us the wisdom and the strength we will need to restore this nation and to save the American Dream.

Thank you very much.