It’s funny to me that the prompt on Facebook for posting says, “What’s on your mind?”
Of course, what’s on my mind and everyone else’s these days is our presidential election. It’s become even more on my mind since Saturday night when the inevitable, in this year of little substance and mostly showtime, happened and our friend Jeb Bush dropped out of the race.
I grieve that our country lost the chance to see his leadership, his honor, his integrity, and his compassion in our White House. I truly believe he sees the greatness that still is America. Which remaining candidate does?
We do not need to make America great again, it remains great. Sure, it has flaws and we have suffered from the lack of leadership from both Congress and the White House on issues that matter to the people. We have big problems needing solutions, and what we see from candidates on both sides are hyperbole and empty promises, absent concrete paths to improve where we stand domestically and internationally.
Bluster and word stews do not solve anything. We must turn our backs on those who have the real goals of tearing down our country, not improving it. You can see it in the posts of those who support candidates without cause, a desire to turn Washington upside down. We do not need to burn down the house we live in, we need to upgrade and remodel it, placing it on the right track for the future of our children and their children.
Like many, I have hope others would see what we know about Jeb. I believe if his name were Jeb Moore, with his record of accomplishments, he would have been treated better in this process. For now, we live in a land of make-believe, hoping someone will wave a magic wand, and all will be right with the world. That is what happened in the 2008 election; people bought into “hope and change.” They still seek hope and change and are headed again to Disappointmentville.
So what to do now? Hundreds of my friends who had been working for Jeb are asking this of themselves. Most are taking their time, going through a period of political mourning. Others have been quick to jump aboard with another, hoping not to miss the train by pausing for just a moment in time. I prefer to pause a bit myself, but with the clock running fast towards March 1 there isn’t much time to dally.
I do not amuse or abuse myself by thinking that my opinion will sway anyone to a candidate or cause. Does anyone ever change their minds from what someone writes? I do have hope that we all add ingredients to the thoughtful stewpot as we simmer within, deciding our own directions.
So here is where I stand, after several days of thinking about little else. Our collective task, to save both the Republican Party and our country, is to do everything we can to derail Donald Trump. He is like a creature from mythology who seems to be able to reflect the worst within us all, not our best. We do not make our country great by demeaning and mocking others, nor by making a mockery of our values as citizens of, what Ronald Reagan described as, the one best hope for mankind.
So Floridians, I encourage you to support Marco Rubio. From a Floridian’s perspective, he is the best chance to derail the biggest loser, while offering the most positive possibilities for governance. I know Marco pretty well. I shared a suite with him years ago; our offices were very close. I saw him hard at work building a leadership team, putting in long hours. During that time I worked about 70 hours a week on policy issues and Marco was often in the office very late, although he did take time to go home many evenings to spend time with his young family, only to come back to work after his children went to bed. He has grown much since then.
I do not fault him for his efforts on immigration, as many have done. He sees a problem that must be solved and was willing to work to find possible solutions. This should be encouraged, not suppressed. Difficult policy issues are vexing, not easily solved. Those who would cloak themselves in the mantle of Reagan should actually go back and study his terms as both governor and president. He did not shy from engagement with his opposition; he relished it. He used powers of persuasion and a firm belief in our country to move those who opposed him closer to his point of view. That’s what leaders do.
We do not live in a “my way or the highway” society. Frankly, this, in large part is why we are in a deadlocked situation now in D.C.; but instead of fixing this we choose to support those who want to destroy the very things we long to regain. Our options have narrowed greatly since there were 17 people on that stage. Some very decent people have been cast aside, but to my concern, one remains who I do not think is a very decent person.
We have an imperative to make sure that we do not go down the Trump tracks, as those tracks lead to a place we never want to be. Marco Rubio has the ability to place us on the right track. He is not perfect; none of us are. Frankly, there are some higher education positions he has embraced, that I think are just wrong. I’ll argue with him later about those. In his career he has dared to be great and he has gone against conventional wisdom and come out on top. We need to support our own Floridian in this critical moment in history. The stakes are just too high to do otherwise.
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Dr. Ed H. Moore is president of The Independent Colleges & Universities of Florida in Tallahassee.