More so than most in his party, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has paid lip-service to the idea that Republicans should expand their electoral reach. Early on in his ill-fated presidential campaign, for example, the Florida senator declared that he intended to make the GOP "the party of the bartenders and the maids, of the people that clean our rooms and fix our cars."
Where Rubio has struggled, however, is with actual policymaking. The idea of Republicans looking out for lower-income working families certainly sounds nice, but the problem is with the follow through. Does Rubio support a higher minimum wage? No. Does he support social-insurance programs such as the Affordable Care Act to ensure these families have health security? No. Has the senator championed paid-leave legislation? No. Is he prepared to back stronger labor union protections? No.
Rubio has, however, helped introduce a bill to eliminate the estate tax. The bill would exclusively benefit multi-millionaires and billionaires.
So how is it, exactly, that Rubio intends to move the Republican Party toward the interests of bartenders, maids, and mechanics? The Floridian keeps writing op-eds on the subject, but they offer more heat than light.
Last month, the senator wrote a piece for USA Today in which he condemned Amazon, not over wages and working conditions, but because he perceives the online behemoth as being "allies of the left in the culture war." In all, Rubio's op-ed referenced the so-called "culture war" four times, alongside derisive uses of the word "woke."
The Florida Republican fleshed out his perspective a bit more in a new op-ed for the New York Post, in which Rubio initially sounded more like Bernie Sanders than a conservative GOP senator: "[W]ith the profits came a corporate duty to care for the strength of the nation and its citizens. That bargain has broken down. Many in corporate America feel no obligation to act in the best interest of our country."
Rubio also blasted corporations for "prioritizing short-term financial windfalls," "ruthless offshoring," and "greed" that has imposed hardships on workers.
And if the Floridian had simply ended the op-ed there, it probably would've received a warm welcome from a wide audience. But Rubio kept going, eventually explaining his underlying concern: corporate America is "waging a merciless war against traditional values."
No policymaker would allow a company to dump toxic waste into a river upstream of a thriving town he is charged with governing. Yet corporate America eagerly dumps woke, toxic nonsense into our culture, and it's only gotten more destructive with time. These campaigns will be met with the same strength that any other polluter should expect.
So, a few things.
First, it's probably fair to say more than a few Republican policymakers would absolutely "allow a company to dump toxic waste" into rivers. Indeed, Donald Trump's political appointees at the EPA overrode career scientists on toxic chemicals, and the former president nominated an opponent of strong chemical safety regulations to oversee chemical safety safeguards.
Second, I haven't the foggiest idea what "toxic" cultural "nonsense" Rubio is referring to, and he pointed to zero examples.
And third, the senator still doesn't appear to have anything resembling a policy agenda. He wants corporations to side with the right on "traditional values" -- I assume Rubio wants to help take the lead in defining how that phrase is defined -- but his op-eds are murky on what happens to executives who dare to disagree.
Corporations responsible for "toxic" cultural "nonsense" should expect that their "pollution" will be met with "strength"? And what, pray tell, might that look like? He didn't say.
"America's laws should keep our nation's corporations firmly ordered to our national common good," the Florida Republican added. That sounds uncontroversial at first blush, but in context, Rubio seemed to suggest that businesses that disappoint him on "traditional values" should expect some kind of legal retribution.
There are vastly easier and more effective ways for a political party to represent the interests of bartenders, maids, and mechanics. Perhaps Rubio should stop writing unfortunate op-eds and start doing more meaningful policy work?