As U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio sees it, the seeds of America’s present division were born at the end of the Cold War. The last great threat to global accord was extinguished, birthing a new era that many believed would unify cultures, people and nations.
Forget the preceding millennia. For those optimists, humans were on the precipice of a historic, leftward turn onto a path bright with possibilities and devoid of the obstacles born of human nature — selfishness, greed, cruelty, tribalism — that plagued all prior generations.
“It was a terrible mistake,” he said. Evidently, no one spoke of this new world order to China, “which took advantage of all its benefits … but none of its responsibilities.” Similarly, no one bothered to tell Vladimir Putin and the Russian Federation about these newfangled guidelines for international conduct in the ensuing years.
The United States got complacent, he said. It shipped manufacturing jobs overseas. As time passed, more and more previously domestic commodities and vocations were things of the past, leaving fewer options for more Americans.
Parallel to that, he said, was the devaluation of the model nuclear family. Rubio said that reality was a casualty of the erosion of common values, but it also came from a decline in “dignified jobs.” Without them, pride — personal and national — faltered, and corrosive, failed ideas like socialism and Marxism took root.
“It’s probably one of the fundamental differences between the socialists and leftists and those of us on the Right, and that is their belief that it doesn’t really matter where the money you have comes from, whether it’s a government stimulus check or government welfare program or a job. The important thing is you just got a hundred bucks,” he said.
“But we know better, because human history tells us that if that $100 is the product of your work, your labor or something you put into it, it means something to the person. It has an element of it that is the glue that holds communities together. It’s the kind of thing that makes it possible to start a family and be a part of a community.”
So began a 45-minute speech Florida’s senior U.S. Senator delivered Monday to a crowd of hundreds in the ballroom of the J.W. Marriott Miami Turnberry, the site of the National Conservative Conference. Shortened to “NatCon,” it’s a symposium of conservatives united under the concepts of national independence, free enterprise, a rejection of globalist policy and ideology, limited immigration and the belief that traditional, Christian family values should factor prominently in American society.
If you’re atheist, agnostic or of a different religious persuasion, if you’re a member of the LGBTQ community or you believe some existing aspects of American society describable as socialist — public libraries, schools, health care, police, fire rescue and infrastructure among them — you won’t be discriminated against under this creed, its proponents say. But don’t expect special treatment or unique protection. Equality doesn’t have carve-outs.
If National Conservatism sounds like an echo of what Donald Trump promotes in his perpetual “Make America Great Again” tour, itself a facsimile of prior conservative messaging, it’s because that’s essentially what it is. And to Rubio — who famously and publicly traded barbs with the former President before morphing into a stalwart defender through two impeachments and an ongoing FBI investigation — taking a National Conservative stance is to enlist oneself as a warrior for common sense battling an increasingly batty army of “laptop liberals and Marxist misfits,” whose disregard for traditional, capitalist, American values long ago verged into outright disdain.
“Now what you’re seeing is a divide play out, over and over again, not simply on economics. It is basically a call to a nation to reject not just our traditions and our values and the time-tested principles of 240 years of the most successful republic in human history, but to reject the lessons, the fundamental truths, of what works and what doesn’t,” he argued.
“It’s tempting for every generation to believe they have it figured out, that everyone before you was ridiculous, but you somehow after 35 or 40 years of life have discovered some hidden truths about humanity that everyone else for 5,500 years has not.”
The Democratic Party has all but caved to the far-left demands of Marxists swelling from within its ranks, who are distinguishable from their less threatening, but nonetheless errant, socialist cousins by their quest for power rather than economic equity, Rubio continued.
Power over what? According to Rubio, fellow U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, and nearly every speaker and panelist at the convention: anything and everything. And if the woke, Marxist, socialist Left gets its way, they warn, the U.S. is toast.
“American history, patriotism, border security, gender, traditional morality, capitalism, fiscal responsibility, opportunity, rugged individualism, Judeo-Christian values, free speech, law enforcement, religious liberty, parental involvement in schools and even private ownership of firearms — the woke Left wants all of that gone,” Scott told a crowd of hundreds Sunday night in what served, in part, as a warmup speech for a longer, more dynamic address by Gov. Ron DeSantis.
The “new socialist America” for which Democrats are pushing will be George Orwell’s “1984” made real, a living horror in which everyone must obey, lest they risk getting “canceled,” Scott said before referencing another dystopian novel that warned against the stifling of so-called dangerous ideas.
“The militant Left in America are the modern-day book burners,” he asserted, because “canceling, silencing and banning from the internet is book burning.” Opposing book bans is popular — 85% of Americans are against the practice, without exception — but it’s Scott’s own party in Florida and elsewhere that has recently led efforts to ban books in schools and impede lessons on gender identity, sexual preference and racism in classrooms and the workplace.
But that’s justified censorship, according to DeSantis, because it protects kids from indoctrination on everything from critical race theory to transgenderism.
“This is ideology run amok, (and) you’re seeing it across a variety of institutions,” he said.
The rise of destructive beliefs is nothing new. That’s why it’s so easy to spot for those with a sense of history, Rubio said: because socialism, communism and all their various offshoots are failed experiments that caused hundreds of millions to suffer.
“I’ve seen this movie before. It’s just like these horror movies, right? Like, you know, don’t go in that closet. No one survives opening the door to that closet.”