Tomorrow, the Commonwealth of Virginia will join a dozen or so other states holding primaries to nominate the Republican candidate for the next president of the United States. While anything could happen between now and the national convention in Cleveland, the votes we cast tomorrow will have an outsized impact due to the perception of momentum and inevitability that accompany early victories. Therefore, I urge my fellow Virginians, and all of my fellow Americans who will vote tomorrow, in the strongest possible terms, to send a clear message of unified resolve and to repudiate the reptilian fraud that is Donald Trump by casting your vote for Senator Marco Rubio.
Four of the first five presidents were Virginians, and the Old Dominion is the birthplace of more presidents than any other state. These early presidents, and indeed most of their successors, made America great not because they built walls, but because they relied on us, the people, to build strong faith, strong families, strong institutions, and a culture of individualism–not dependence, a culture of creativity–not meaningless consumption. When we go to vote on Tuesday, this history–which includes the oldest legislature in continuous existence in North America–should weigh heavily on our minds. The duty and responsibility of democracy is not some frivolous form of entertainment.
Marco Rubio speaks often of these ideals. While other candidates are distracted by mischaracterizations and equivocations about their policy pipe dreams, Senator Rubio sees that much more is at stake than marginal tax rates or the cost of healthcare, but indeed, the very notion of enlightened self-government and ordered liberty itself. Our cultural and academic institutions have been so distorted and attenuated by decades of liberal brainwashing that many of our young people today prefer socialism to free markets, restrictive safe zones to free speech, spiteful intolerance to religious liberty, and much else besides.
Donald Trump has built his campaign pandering to these illiberal and dangerous urges. Donald Trump has said he supports universal healthcare and confiscatory taxes on the wealthy. Donald Trump has said that he should be able to sue newspapers that criticize him. Donald Trump refuses to say how or why he should do anything to protect religious freedom. He has gone on the record throughout this campaign season with positions indistinguishable from the Democrats on almost every question which strikes at the very essence of the American identity.
Conservatives have long been trying to regain even a meager foothold in our cultural and academic institutions for over a generation, and Donald Trump is the paragon of everything we are fighting against. Where past generations of Americans have built up our society and institutions, his supporters speak only of destruction. He is a creature of “reality” television, hype without substance, manufactured outrage, and the ephemeral celebrity of social media. He would have faded into well-deserved obscurity long ago if not for the irresistible power of name recognition–and the ill-gotten riches of his father’s and grandfather’s fortunes.
It is true that Ted Cruz and John Kasich are highly skilled and intelligent public servants, each with a long record of experience, but what they both lack is a compelling message not only of constitutional checks and balances or bureaucratic efficiency (all good things, to be sure), but of what the conservative message really means for ordinary Americans in their daily lives. Donald Trump has been so successful because he connects with people at an emotional level. Only Marco Rubio has the charisma, the eloquence, and the compassionate demeanor to transcend the vile pettiness of the Trump campaign and to connect with people as the bearer of a message of hope: that there is an alternative to the economic stagnation and social decay of the last seven years, and that freedom is a necessary precondition for the pursuit of happiness and human flourishing.
From 1968 to 2004, Virginia was a foregone conclusion of electoral politics, but in recent years, the same demographic changes that Trump complains so loudly against have made Virginia into a must-win battleground state that will be hotly contested. While Trump’s answer to every question is to deport or sue the people who speak or vote against him, Senator Rubio has a positive message that will have broad appeal in the general election. The difference between these two men could not be more stark. Just as in the earliest days of the Republic, Virginia will once again have a historic impact on the future of America. Let us be sure that we choose wisely.