On Tuesday, we saw Marco Rubio vote against two separate amendments to the Gang of Eight's immigration bill that would tighten border security before any "Pathway to Citizenship" occurred. Conservatives across the country felt betrayed, hurt, confused and downright angry at him for this. Had he not assured us that border security would come first? Even after he admitted the Pathway was probably going to take the lead, some still held out hope.
Now, anger, even loathing, has filled social media timelines and you'd think that everyone, by their tweets and posts, are shaking with rage. A rage being aimed directly at Rubio himself. But, I would ask that you take a step back and think of Rubio more as a victim here than a blatantly lying scumbag. No, I am not defending the immigration bill at all. It sucks.
Rather, I am asking you to see it from a less-discussed point of view, one that I believe is truer to the actual case. Given what we have learned of Rubio since his election, being naive and being eager are his two biggest flaws here. Somewhere along the way, in the interest of doing what he thought was right for his country and his party, he was convinced to reverse that order and instead do what was right for the party first.
Rubio is kind of like that kid in school that falls in with the wrong crowd. He gets tricked by them and used by them. He is warned of what they're capable of, but he sees the best in people. John McCain and Lindsey Graham convinced this young, Latin-American and (most importantly) inexperienced senator from Florida to work with them on a plan to fix the immigration issue. Rubio, because he is young and, I believe, a bit naive, decided that, yes, he can take part and use the stage to insert and fight for real Republican ideas in border security and limiting access to the fruitful teat of government.
And McCain and Graham let him think he could.
So, the process goes along, but something is wrong. His voice is ignored internally, but blared externally. The very ideas he was fighting for are now being compromised away - just like he was warned they would be when dealing with these kind of people - but being praised in commercials across the country. All of a sudden, he found himself isolated as more and more details came out about the plan and his was the face that the establishment Republicans tacked onto it. Conservatives were growing restless.
At this point, the option was to stay at the table and continue to fight. Perhaps he could still get something in. He'd go out and tell people he was fighting for this, and try to keep his word. But, the trust was gone the moment he spoke aloud what we knew - the pathway comes first. And he knew he was in trouble. Still, he chose to fight for it, believing it could be saved.
But, you ask, how do you explain the votes against increased border security? Truth be told, I can't. In his shoes, I would have left the table a long time ago and rallied the conservative troops. Again, though, it's a different stage and there are procedures and rules and standards. I think Rubio just... felt like he had to see it through. Maybe he thinks the House can fix the problems in the Senate's version. He'd just need to help get it passed at that point, so making sure controversial amendments didn't stall it would seal the deal.
What we blame Rubio for, I strongly believe, is not his fault. Rather, I think he is a perfect micro-example of what is happening to the Republican Party in Washington D.C.
We are being told by the "powers that be" that in order to win, we have to appeal to moderates. We have to get more votes. We have to compromise. However, all we ever do is compromise our own ideals away. The establishment and the consultants are quick to Republicans to advance the party, in effect telling them to ignore the masses that got them where they are in the first place. I think Marco Rubio saw a chance to help the Republicans which, in turn, would help the country. He got caught up in that. And, when it's all said and done, I think he's going to know (if he doesn't already) that he messed up. And we need to forgive him.
I know I am doing an awful lot of speculating but I know just as much about his motives as you do. I am just assuming the best and keeping the vitriol for those who deserve it. Rubio will need conservative support when election time comes. Because if this immigration plan passes, do you honestly think the Democrats will give him credit? No. "He's the crazy conservative who wanted border security." "He lied about securing the border first." "His own aide said that not all U.S. workers can be winners." But, remember instead why we supported him. Hopefully, he'll learn from this and he can go on to do better.