Watching Senator Marco Rubio’s Daily Show interview the other day, I could not help but to be both impressed with his ideas and immensely frustrated with his attempts to marry his political ambitions with his legislative ambitions. The senators ideas for extending and modifying the child reimbursement part of the tax code so that instead of receiving an annual lump sum the money is spread into monthly paycheck supplements, his policy regarding community college (namely that it should be available to more people, including supporting the president) left me inspired by the fact that there are moderate republicans that see value in the role of government in the economy and our lives. The senator’s plan for the child tax credit (http://www.wsj.com/articles/mike-lee-and-marco-rubio-a-pro-family-pro-growth-tax-reform-1411426189) is an interesting new take on the tax code, and the fact that Rubio is willing to do this via government suggests an idealogical gap between him and the Tea Party.
Then, unfortunately, he was asked a question about whether or not the type of interactive government his tax code rearrangement calls for would be okay with Tea Party voters. Instead of responding by suggesting that perhaps the tea party was not in fact the end all in every discussion of Republican policy, Rubio lurched into defense mode, explaining that the Tea Party members were just frustrated with the growth of government and other standard tea party remarks. If Rubio believed in the Tea Party ideology, he would not have come up with a plan for governing that involved government action. The Tea Party, as he almost acknowledged, is firmly against such action. But instead of taking the opportunity to step into the center and try to present himself as a moderate with moderate ideas, he responded to Jon Stewart’s questions by going back to the Republican base.
Somebody is going to have to win the republican nomination for president in 2016. Jeb Bush looks like a contender now, but there are years left and the question of “are we ready for another bush” has not been answered definitively. If Rubio can promote himself as a moderate, and act like a moderate, he has a legitimate chance at winning the presidency. But if he falls back to base to try and win the party, he’ll be no different then Ted Cruz. I want to believe in a two party system where both parties are willing to work, and I think Rubio could lead one of those parties. The question remains, however, will Marco Rubio stick with his policy, or will he stick with his politics. I think the answer could change the election.