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VIDEO: Rubio Delivers Remarks at Faith & Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority Conference
Washington, D.C.— U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) delivered remarks today at the Faith & Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority Conference. Offering his vision for a “civic nationalism based on shared American citizenship,” Rubio spoke about how fully restoring American prosperity and leadership in the world can only be brought about by replenishing the strength of the classic American institutions of work, family, community, and country.
A rough transcript of Rubio’s remarks is below:
Seven decades ago, the United States emerged from the Second World War optimistic about the future and confident of what we could achieve. After the enormous sacrifices made to win the war, Americans were ready to come home and get on with the rest of their lives. But less than two years after the Japanese surrendered, we faced a set of new threats and new challenges that created a sense of doubt and fear. Much of the world was left in ruins by the war. Even before the war had ended, the Soviet Union was transforming from an ally into a geopolitical competitor. And at home, the industrial prowess we harnessed to create weapons now needed to be harnessed to create jobs for millions of returning soldiers.
How Americans responded at that moment would determine not just of the fate of American idea, but of Western Civilization itself. And they responded by mobilizing the nation to confront the historic challenges before them.The federal government was a key part of that mobilization. The G.I. Bill helped many returning veterans go to college and enter the work force. The Interstate Highway system created access to “Sun Belt” cities and suburbs. And loans insured by the VA and the Federal Housing Administration helped finance millions of home purchases across the country. But the most important move made by the federal government was dramatically reducing spending and taxes and ending price controls and rationing. The result was an over 200% increase in private investment.
The federal government also mobilized by helping rebuild the nations destroyed by war, and create the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. The result was the emergence of foreign markets for the products America was making, traded in an international economy that played by the rules America wrote. Perhaps the most well-known phenomenon of this period involved not government, but the family. The number of marriages skyrocketed, while divorce rates remained very low. And those marriages produced a “baby boom,” in which 75 million new Americans were born from 1946 to 1964. These new families were deeply engaged in the life of their communities. They formed and joined churches and Elks Clubs, bowling leagues and the PTA to not just socialize, but to support causes and one another.
And while America remained a nation haunted by racism, sexism and other forms of inequality, there was a unifying and shared belief – even among those who themselves were not yet fully benefiting from the promises of this land – that America was a great and special nation whose commitment to limited government, free-enterprise, liberty, and justice was worth preserving and defending at all costs. And it was this economically prosperous, civically engaged and deeply patriotic America which rebuilt a world destroyed by war, put a fellow citizen on the moon, and confronted, reversed and defeated Soviet communism. Because they did what needed to be done, that generation of Americans authored what came to be known as the American Century. Now, seven decades later, this nation once again faces challenges that will determine what this generation will be remembered for, and define the 21st Century.
At home, millions of the jobs which for decades have provided people secure, middle class lifestyles are being transformed by machines, technology and globalization. All around the world, the Democracies we helped to root, expand and protect are now being challenged by autocratic regimes offering people order, stability and prosperity in a time of chaos, uncertainty, and economic displacement. And a new geopolitical competitor, China, is systematically executing on their plan to do something the Soviet Union never came close to acheiving: supplanting the United States to become the worlds premier technological, economic, geopolitical, and military power.
These are significant challenges, But they pale in comparison to recovering from World War II and living under the threat of World War III. Our greatest obstacle isn’t that our problems are too strong; our greatest obstacle right now is that the institutions that make us strong are weak. We are weakened by an economic elitism that has replaced a commitment to the dignity of work with a cult-like faith in financial markets. And with a short sighted view of Americans as consumers whose happiness is based on what they can afford to buy, instead of viewing them as human beings who seek the pride, confidence and resources that comes from a good job.
Our institutions have been weakened by a cultural elitism that has replaced the family and the values it teaches with government and the laws that is passes. And that mocks and even discriminates against the norms, customs and ethics developed over 2,500 years of Western Civilization.
Weakened by a toxic brew of runaway secularism, irrational partisanship, and grievance-based identity politics, which has destroyed the trust and norms needed to act together in pursuit of shared goals. Which has isolated us from one another. And which has left us vulnerable to conspiracy theories, susceptible to a daily cycle of outrage, and caused us to stop speaking to family members and longtime friends because of who they voted for. And weakened by the increasing loss of a patriotism rooted in the belief that America is an exceptional nation. A strong America can solve any of the problems we currently face. But we cannot be strong as long as the pillars of our strength are weak.
The first pillar is an economy built on the dignity of work. From the farmers who took advantage of the Homestead Act to buy land with their labor, to the factory workers who powered America to victory in the Second World War and then again in the Cold War, Americans have always benefited from a labor market that allowed us to earn high wages and fulfill the America promise that if you work hard and live responsibly, you and your family will flourish. But today, our economic debate isn’t built on the dignity of work. Our economic debate is built on a valueless financial self-interest and on a view of Americans as consumers. There are immense consequences to this view.
When right and wrong is based solely on profitability, then there is nothing immoral in shipping jobs overseas or surrendering key American technology and innovation to China. And when happiness is measured solely by how much someone can afford to buy, a check from the government is just as good as a job. I saw the devastating impact of this kind of thinking firsthand during my campaign for President. I saw it in the factory towns hollowed out by companies who shipped those jobs overseas to turn a bigger profit. And where the dignity of work has been replaced by food stamps, opioids and disability checks.
In order to make America strong we must restore the dignity of work as our primary economic goal.,Not with policies which offer the false promise of a “Universal Basic Income” or a check for doing government work, so they can afford to buy more things. And not with policies based on the false choice of narrow economic growth with redistribution versus narrow economic growth without redistribution.
Instead, we need policies that view Americans as human beings who cannot flourish without the sense of accomplishment, pride and sufficiency that comes with a good-paying job. Policies built on the realization that our people need real and productive jobs. Jobs that allow them to pour themselves into a task, turn their efforts into productivity, and allow them to use that productivity to invest in themselves, their family, and their community. And creating these kinds of jobs here will require us to make sure we lead the world in making advanced goods and technologies. Which is why we cannot allow China to continue to cheat and steal their way into a position of dominance in these industries, and need to spur American investment in the manufacturing of the future, and support American companies when they help American workers.
The second pillar is the family. Indeed, it is the most central institution in any society. It has been through strong families that America has passed down our values, love, work ethic, and traditions. Sadly, you do not need to run for President to see the state of the American family. In the 1950s, fewer than 5 percent of children were born out of wedlock. Today, the number exceeds 40 percent. Adding to this, too many families are being constantly buffeted by economic pressures that discourage family life, and by social engineering that seeks to replace it.
This is why we need both policies and a culture that will value and support the family, as the Faith and Freedom Coalition does. That is why I so passionately fought, even against many in my own party, to expand the Child Tax Credit as part of tax reform. And that is why I intend to fight just as hard alongside the President and Ivanka Trump, to expand access to paid family leave. Because after all, how can the Republican Party find hundreds of billions of dollars to give to multinational corporations, many of which feel little loyalty to America, but not also cut the taxes of hard-working families trying to make ends meet and provide for their children? And if being a parent is the most important job anyone will ever have, how can we not make it easier for working parents to find time for their growing family without facing financial ruin? Because while I support lower taxes and the social safety-net, what tax cut or government program could possibly contribute more to our national well-being than strong families and empowered parents?
The third pillar is our ability to work together in community. Our churches, neighborhoods, schools, and sports leagues – especially when my sons’ youth football teams I coach beat the neighbors’ teams – are the spaces where each of us lives the bulk of our lives. They are where we give and receive love and strength from the people we know best. The very concept of “community” – a social organization separate from the government that values serving one’s neighbors – is a strong guard against the radical you’re-on-your-own individualism promoted by our government and by our society in the last 30 years.
One good example of how divided and isolated from each other we have become comes from a speech given several months ago by Hillary Clinton in India. She told her foreign audience that she won places that represented two-thirds of American economic output – GDP – calling those places the ones that are optimistic, diverse, dynamic, and moving forward. Implict in her comment is that the rest of the country, the ones who did not vote for her, are the people who are angry, white, stagnant and backward-thinking.
I will say: at least Secretary Clinton openly admitted what is a widely held belief among those who dominate our cultural institutions such as our universities, show business, and the media. But it would be unfair to claim that this isolation and division is driven only from the left. There are many people in positions of influence and authority in finance, business, and politics who also subscribe to this logic that being wealthy and being good are one and the same. That’s how we have a financial elite that outsources American jobs to countries that don’t share our values and views the traditional beliefs of regular Americans as backwards.
That’s how have multinational corporations who have no problem chasing a profit in a repressive, communist dictatorship like China, but they won’t do business in the state of North Carolina? Or how Google won’t help develop technology for the American military, but will partner with Chinese spy-companies like Huawei? They have chosen financial self-interest and ideological division over country.
Instead of working together in community, our nation increasingly feels like a “democracy of the fittest” which pits us against one another on the basis of how much can they buy, where they went to school, whether we practice religion and if so which one, what race or ethnicity they are and who they voted for in the last election. And these divisions we are quicker than ever to excommunicate anyone who does not demonstrate unwavering loyalty to the political tribe. These deep divisions do not just paralyze us from taking action, they are used against us by our international adversaries.
This is why an authoritarian like Vladimir Putin sought to interfere in our elections. His ultimate goal wasn’t to elect Donald Trump. His ultimate goal was to weaken us by exploiting our divisions and our bitter politics so that no matter who won the election, America would find it hard to mobilize and take action. Beyond Putin, authoritarian figures around the world point to our political divisions and inability to take action as an argument for why the authoritarian model they are offering provide more stability, more security and more prosperity. This is why we must do all we can to reinvigorate community.
We must continue defending religious liberty. We must both create space in which communities can flourish and, motivated by our faith, provide positive examples of moral communities that advance a vision of the common good. We should support the conscience rights of various faiths and creeds against unlawful infringement, but more than that, we must show with our hands and feet the good to our country that comes from taking care of the neighbor’s kids, coaching your son’s sports team, volunteering in after-school programs, and feeding the sick and elderly.
And finally, the fourth pillar is the belief that doing all this is worth it, because America is a special country. Believing that America is a special country does not require us to ignore the sins of our past. On the contrary, how we overcame them is a testament to how special our nation truly is. Ending slavery, women’s suffrage, the civil rights movement – every one of our great social causes has been an effort to bring us closer to fulfilling our powerful founding truth, that all men and women are children of God, born with rights given to them by their Creator, not their leaders or their government.
This is what made the American Revolution so unique. It did not seek to establish a home for a people bound together by a common blood or common soil, but rather a home for a people united in a quest to protect and preserve our God given rights.And so while we have never been completely true to our founding idea, it is a testament to America’s greatness that for over two centuries each generation has fought and succeeded to move us closer to it.
That is why pledging allegiance to our flag or standing for our national anthem is not about ignoring what our nation has gotten wrong. It is about honoring a 253 year-old revolution that continues to this day. Nothing is more American than the belief that all men are created equal. Nothing is more American than the belief that every human being is endowed by God with an inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
This is the kind of new nationalism we need. And this is the kind of new nationalism we should insist new immigrants embrace. Not a nationalism of race or ethnicity. But rather an American nationalism built on a commitment continuing the work of forming a more perfect union. A union of many races, many faiths, and many points of views, into one people, committed to equality of opportunity and protecting our God-given rights.
An American nationalism that doesn’t view America as just a piece of land shared by 326 million individuals. But rather as a collection of families and friends, of neighbors and coworkers. Of fellow citizens with equal rights under the law, but also fellow citizens with a responsibility to each other. An American nationalism in which we are not our brother’s keeper; but we must always be willing to be our brother’s helper. And an American nationalism that understands that it is not possible to have an America that is good for some of us, if it is not good for all of us.
In conclusion, let me say that my journey over the last seven years has provided me with the benefits of the broader perspective that comes from meeting new people and learning new things. And it has provided me the blessing of adversity, the kind of lessons rarely learned in victory, but common from defeats. I returned to the U.S. Senate against my initial wishes. But I am glad I came back. And as long as my health, my family and the people of Florida allow me to be here, I intend to try and make a difference. And that is why I chose to give this speech to you today. Because each generation has been called to confront threats to the American nation and idea. Now it is our turn to do the same. Despite our divisions and dysfunction, I remain convinced that somehow, and some way, at some point we will do this as well.
I believe this because every American is an heir to the dreams of immigrants, of pilgrims and of slaves. In our veins runs the blood of people who left behind an old world for the new one, in our veins runs the blood of the slaves driven by the belief that one day “we shall overcome.” Of the men and women who overcame great obstacles because inside of them was the burning desire to live the life God created them to live. It is literally in our DNA to confront great challenges and do great things against great odds. This is what we have done for over two and a half centuries. And that is what we are called to do now. We are blessed with the liberty to debate, argue and vote on the best way to preserve and nurture the God-given rights of all people. And we should do so with all the passion and energy that this powerful truth merits. But we can never lose sight of the fact that no matter how angry we may get at one another, none of us is going anywhere. Therefore just as we don’t in our own families, there are those with whom we will never agree on many things. But because we must live together, if something is important to them, it must be important to us.
This is not unrealistic idealism. Or the platitudes of someone seeking to be all things to all people. This is the pure reality that sooner or later we will confront the stark truth that unless we figure out a way to solve our problems by working with people with whom we do not agree, we will all pay a terrible price. And what would be that terrible price? It would be that our children will inherit a nation in which dignified work is available only to the few. It would be that our children will inherit a democracy that is an island surrounded by a vast sea of tyrants. It would be that our children will live in a world dominated by China. Where they will have to depend on them for the latest medical advances and technologies. And where privacy, free speech, religious liberty and human rights are no longer protected, because the world’s most powerful country is a serial violator of each one. And if God forbid such a day should ever come, it will be because those of us here, now, allowed it to happen.
Therefore that day must never come. We cannot, and will not, be the first generation that failed to leave their children better off than themselves. Each generation before us was called to the task of preserving and passing on to the next an America better than the one they inherited. Now our time has come, to leave behind the trivial and confront the challenges and embrace the opportunities of our time. So that when our children write our story they will say that, like each generation before, we too lived in time of great uncertainty, and we did not falter. We did what needed to be done. We authored in a New American Century, and left for our children what our parents left for us, a more perfect union, and the single greatest nation in the history of all mankind.