Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., talks to supporters, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2015, in Miami.
Photo by Luis M. Alvarez/AP

A candidate for an old American century

Updated
Visit Marco Rubio’s campaign homepage and you’re confronted with a thematic question: “Are You Ready For A New American Century?” The “new” is bolded in the original, emphasizing the Republican senator’s not-so-subtle message to voters: Rubio may be young, and he may not have any actual accomplishments, but he’s a fresh face who’s preoccupied with talking about the “future,” so voters should make him president.
 
But while near-constant references to the 21st century are nice, now might be a good time to acknowledge the fact that Rubio’s hackneyed vision looks backwards and his policy agenda is focused on restoring the past.
 
We talked two weeks ago, for example, about Rubio’s ongoing fight against marriage equality and his belief that it’s not too late to bring back discriminatory marriage laws. The Daily Beast reported late yesterday on what else the senator said during an interview with TV preacher Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network.
[Rubio] said he would reverse President Obama’s executive orders on LGBT non-discrimination, appoint judges to roll back abortion and same-sex marriage, and expand religious exemptions to a wide range of laws.
 
Most surprisingly, Rubio told CBN that he would “reverse the executive orders the president has made” on LGBT non-discrimination, which a large majority of Americans support.
 
While saying that, Rubio repeated the lie that schools have “been forced to, you know, provide girls access to a boys’ bathroom and so forth.”
For the record, in case anyone’s confused, there have been no executive orders from the president related to bathrooms.
 
Referencing Obama’s order barring government contractors from discriminating while accepting public funds, which really does exist, Rubio complained, “[T]here are many government contractors and small companies who provide services to the government who are faith-based people, and they are, they are being compelled to sin by government in their business conduct.”
 
The senator didn’t specify which “sin” these government contractors are now required to commit.
 
Looking at this in the larger context, however, Rubio may not fully appreciate the degree to which he’s undermining his own carefully crafted message.
 
On the surface, the idea of a Marco Rubio probably seems compelling to much of the Republican Party. He sells himself as a young, well-spoken senator with few ties to the stale arguments of the past. Some recent polling shows Rubio is the kind of politician old people think young people will like.
 
But the contradiction at the heart of Rubio’s candidacy is striking. The Florida Republican wants to take the nation backwards on LGBT rights. And reproductive rights. And energy policy. And foreign policy. And social-insurance programs. And the environment.
 
Congratulations, Sen. Rubio. You’ve positioned yourself as the ideal candidate for an old American century.
 
 

Culture War, Culture Wars, Gay Rights and Marco Rubio

A candidate for an old American century

Updated