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VIDEO: Rubio Delivers Remarks at Focus on the Family’s 2018 “Faith and Freedom Tour”
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio today delivered remarks at Focus on the Family’s 2018 “Faith and Freedom Tour” on the importance of strong American families. A rough transcript of Rubio’s remarks is below:
It’s really an honor to be here with you guys. The theme and really the core mission of this organization it couldn’t have been more accurate name given the challenges that we face today, “Focus on the Family,” it’s almost pressing in its importance. I think sometimes the smarter we get as a country, as a society, as humanity, the dumber we realize we are. I think we’re back to that moment where issue after issue, and I mean issue after issue, we turn on the news almost every day and you ask yourself what’s happening domestically?
There’s a challenge in the country, whatever It might be. A horrible tragedy, where just in the last three months, a couple of young men go into schools and take the lives of 27 human beings in two different incidents. The runaway violence in different parts of the country, just issue after issue. You realize that it goes back to when you get back to the core every single one of them has a common theme, at some point, a breakdown in the family unit. Now we are learning more of what happened in Texas. But, we most certainly know that this killer in Parkland is an individual who had very significant home problems specially after the death of the mother and not to excuse it but just to tell you why focusing on the family is so critical.
The bottom line is families are the building blocks of our country, of a society. At its most basic level, and if you look at the most basic level of society it begins in the family. If the family is broken nothing else in society works well. It’s as I’ve said before, many times, it’s the fundamental unit of a society and not only that, it’s the most important institution in terms of passing down values of what’s right and what’s wrong. Laws can tell you what’s legal, laws cannot tell right and wrong. It is the institution that teaches you that there are absolute rights and absolute wrongs. There are things that are absolutely wrong and there are things that are absolutely right. There’s no law, no book, well there is one book that can teach you that. But there’s no degree, that sort of inculcating of values is what allows everything this country is about to flourish. Free enterprise works because while we have the opportunity to make money and prosperity we have for generations in this country deeply infused by Judeo-Christian values believed that we have an obligation to take care of one another and that did not necessarily mean government programs. It meant stepping forward in organizations in our community and to this day, despite all bad news, there’s a reason why any time any disaster faces our country or any tragedy you see Americans respond. I witnessed that twice just in the last year after Hurricanes impacted my state, where our state was flooded and people from all over the country who stepped forward to volunteer time and money.
I’m particularly grateful to the Southern Baptist Mission in North Carolina that were begging to be able to help and came down, they provided invaluable service. Nobody made them do it, there was no tax incentive to do it. Nobody paid them to do it, something compelled them to do it and that is the value and the believe that they had an obligation to care for their fellow men and women. To care for their fellow citizens. But by the way, they’ve also deployed in other countries. Which tells us that their faith infused them with the believe they have an obligation to care for all mankind, including those who may not share our national borders. That’s why the family is so vital to passing down those values from generation to generation. By the way strong families are also incubators of economic opportunity, financial security, and they generate what’s called the social capital upon which an economy such as ours can function and on which our constitutional republic by the way also depends. There is no replacement for the family, there’s nothing, no agency no government program that we can create that can replace the family.
We have great innovations in the 21st century, but for example, Facebook it might be able to help you find out what your high school and college friends are doing now, but there’s no way Facebook can raise children. It can’t help you with a place to stay while you’re in between jobs. Facebook can’t instill the values needed for a productive life or teach the difference between right and wrong. So I will tell you, that in many ways, the state of our union can be determined by the state of our “unions.” I don’t mean labor unions. I’m talking about the union of a strong nation with strong families. So it should be very concerning to everybody, all Americans that, even in the time of a growing economy, American family life is crumbling. Family formation is the last rite of passage into adulthood for our children and it’s increasingly suffering from a failure to launch. In the 1950s, fewer than 5 percent of children were born out of marriage.
Today, that number is over 40 percent, meaning almost half of the children in this country are born into a single parent home and in many cases into a family where the father is non-existent in the child’s life. Financially does not provide, emotionally does not provide and obviously is not part of the family unit in terms of teaching values. There’s a recent study by the Institute for Family Studies found that the number of married Americans ages 18 to 64 has hit an all-time low, with only 48 percent of all adults now are married, compared to 75 percent in 1960 and nearly 60 percent just less than 20 years ago in 2000. The failure to form families is most clear among younger Americans. Last year, only 26 percent of adults ages 18 to 34 were married, that’s down from 40 percent in 1990.
Just this week, the Centers for Disease Control announced that U.S. birthrates hit a 40-year low in 2017. And as the economy began accelerate even faster toward the end of last year; the provisional data suggests fertility began to fall even faster, confounding the historical relationship between the health of our economy and formation of new families and family members. At the same time, America is wracked by total dysfunction for what it means to have honorable, respectable men and women in the home, at the workplace, and in our churches and synagogues, in religion, by the way that’s if they even have faith as part of their life at all. There is no coincidence. Our deeper cultural and societal problems are the fruit of what has gone deeply wrong in American family life.
Gone are the days when our young men and women could expect good, stable jobs, a spouse, and children to provide the hallmarks of a productive life – no matter how good the statistics tell us our economy is. That is, I think, the crucial question for the social contract of the 21st century: can we re-invigorate an America where a working class family can afford a mortgage and three kids, like my parents and your parents were able to do? By the way, this is not the same question as whether “can we get 4 percent GDP growth in our economy?” or “how can we make everyone more upwardly mobile?” These are important questions to be asked, but they are not the questions that will determine the strength of America’s family values in the century to come. The question should matter greatly for those of us who consider ourselves to be conservatives. Where the family tree branches thin out, the appeal for bigger and bigger government grows stronger to step in.
Some of you might remember, in the 2012 election there was a commercial an ad by the Obama campaign, it was called the “Life of Julia” and this ad depicted a young woman whose every choice was either provided for or subsidized by the government from cradle to grave, with no family, or children, or broader community ever seen or even referenced. Without the personal and financial support of strong, close families, people are left to depend on the state on the government to fund and provide for those needs. We know that government has an important role to play, but government will never ever be able to fulfill our needs. Like our fundamental rights in this country, our families are given to us by our creator, by God. And so what really happens when we rely mostly on government to solve our problems, rather than empowering families, is a deep and pervasive sense of loneliness, which I think is a major driver of the toxic partisanship, division and polarization which characterizes our politics today.
Loneliness can drive someone to seek out community because we are all programed to seek community, by our Creator. When you’re lonely sometimes you seek out community in national politics, and you come to define yourself by who you voted for, what party you’re a part of, and you end up putting your faith in a human being, a mortal man or woman—flawed, stained with original sin. Putting our faith in politicians that, like government programs, will never be able to fulfill our hopes and dreams – instead of seeking community next door in our neighborhoods, or 30 minutes away at our grandmother’s house. Loneliness can drive some people to seek community based off ethnic pride, which at its extreme can lead to racism and violence. You do that in search of a familial sense of belonging to something that gives your purpose greater than yourself. Loneliness can drive us away from sharing our faith and country with our families, neighbors, and fellow countrymen, and into the anonymity where sin often flourishes.
I don’t mean to over exaggerate or sound catastrophic, but this is the state of the American family. If this is our reality, then we should stop at nothing to address it. And it’s with that in mind that as you go about your work, your activism, your engagement to fix broken families at the personal level, and to fix the conditions that create them at the national level that I wanted to be here to talk to you about it. It’s with that in mind that we must vigorously defend those institutions in society that empower the family to teach values and that’s why I strongly support religious liberty and our defense of it.
I was reading just this morning the story about Philadelphia. Catholic Social Services, which for years has run over 100 foster homes, recently was denied and stopped receiving new foster children from the City of Philadelphia because they won’t certify same-sex or unmarried couples as foster parents. They would prefer people in that situation to another agency but they themselves won’t recognize it, so they now, after all these years, will no longer be able to assist the children under their foster program. And I think that’s such a clear, recent example of how religious liberty and family values go hand-in-hand. Here, you have a government that would rather enforce a progressive, cultural value, and force it on a religious organization than give foster children a healthy home to grow up in. Many of our leaders wonder why American family life becomes increasingly dysfunctional, but the reasons are right there in front of us.
By the way, it’s with that in mind that I stood up for families in the United States Senate. We had our tax debate recently and there were many people, including some of the largest newspapers in America—the WSJ and others—who were very upset when we demanded we expand the Child Tax Credit as part of tax reform. Child Tax Credit, by the way, you can only get if you are working. You have to be working to be able to qualify for it.
How is it possible that the Republican Party can find hundreds of billions of dollars to give to multinational corporations, many of which care little about our country, but we fear cutting the taxes of hard-working families that are trying to make ends meet and provide for their children? If you work hard, pay your taxes, and start a family, you are doing immense good for our country in a time when we need stable families more than ever.
I believe that the preamble to the Constitution declares our purpose to “secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity” for a reason. So we have to put our money where our mouth is. We should defund Planned Parenthood – taking important steps wherever possible like the Administration’s recently-announced restrictions on Title X funding for abortion clinics – protect religious liberty from the opponents of faith, and allow the American people the freedom of conscience to believe and do what’s right.
But we should also expand the Child Tax Credit, bring back high-paying working-class jobs, and enact a conservative, fiscally-responsible parental leave policy that allows parents the option of using Social Security benefits early, when they have a child and cannot afford to take time away from work unpaid. I truly and deeply believe this is the agenda of the future, because it applies our timeless principles and to the gifts God has given us, and it applies to the challenges of our time.
Ultimately, we cannot have a strong country without strong people. We will not have strong people without strong families, and I am thankful that you are a partner in this fight of rebuilding America and strengthening it, not from the top down, but from the ground up. Parents, children, and families. Churches, synagogues and faith communities. That is truly how we restore America’s greatness. Thank you.