When James Madison described an "extended republic" in his famous Federalist No. 10, he rejected the received wisdom of his day. Most educated Americans then agreed with Montesquieu and many other political theorists that a republic could only exist in a small city-state. No, argued Madison, the actual history of those little republics makes the case for an extended republic because those city-states all succumbed to factional strife. Only when you extend the territory over which the republic would exercise its authority would the factions check and balance each other. By countering in this one instance the revered Montesquieu, Madison prevailed. And we have endured.
The case I offer for drafting Marco Rubio in 2012 likewise runs counter to the received wisdom. Most commentators agree that Rubio is the "future star of the Republican party," as Juan Williams has called him. Rich Lowry acknowledges that Rubio in 2016 will be "seasoned" enough to be president. Bill Kristol is ready to put Rubio on the ticket in 2012, but only as vice president. To say someone is ready to be vice president is to say he is ready to be president. .
Seasoning in the U.S. Senate too often involves learning the arcane folkways of what members call "the world's greatest deliberative body." Too often long-serving senators lose the ability to communicate powerfully with Americans at the grassroots.
That may be why John F. Kennedy spent as little time wrapped up in Senate procedure as possible. He and Majority Leader Lyndon B. Johnson addressed a joint meeting of the Texas and Massachusetts delegations to the 1960 Democratic National Convention. As Johnson related all the bills he had shepherded through the Senate, he was generously applauded. He expected to blow the upstart junior senator from Massachusetts out of the water with that commanding performance.
Kennedy acknowledged all of Johnson's mastery of the Senate -- and said he looked forward to supporting Johnson for Majority Leader when he, Kennedy, went to the White House! The delegates roared with laughter. JFK's witty rejoinder left the hulking Johnson flummoxed. Kennedy walked off with the presidential nomination.
As conservatives, we are facing a crisis. Every day Barack Obama rules, we are standing into danger. We are facing a perfect storm of defense, economic, and social crises. In every area of our national life, our liberties and our very national existence are in danger. The definition of what it is to be an American is at risk. So is the idea of American exceptionalism. It will take eight years of conservative government to undo the damage Obama is doing in four.
Marco Rubio not only has the better experience we need, he has the philosophical grounding. He knows why America has been blessed to be the strongest and freest country in history. He articulates the conservative credo better than any political figure since Ronald Reagan.
Rubio can overcome conservatives' severe 67/30 problem. Liberals are consoling themselves, even after Obama's shellacking, with the idea that if 67% of Hispanics vote for Barack Obama in `12 as they did in `08, Obama will be re-elected. Further, fully 30% of third graders are Hispanic. In ten years, they'll be voters. Failure to bring a substantial portion of this rapidly demographic into our ranks will doom conservatism in the future.
Marco Rubio is the only one who can be for these third graders what Reagan was to millions of young Americans of the 1980s. He is the embodiment of what we believe about immigration -- we welcome those who are legal and loyal. He is more eloquent in Spanish than most Republicans are in English -- and he can put the compelling case for all children learning English.
Of course, we should reject quotas of any kind. Marco Rubio has the character, convictions, and the record that commend him for our highest office. We should back him if his name were Matt Robinson or Marc Rubin. That it is Marco Rubio, however, is a godsend.
The recent CPAC gathering in Washington showed us the trouble we are in. Charles Krauthammer is but one commentator to note weak the field for 2012 is. If some of those would-be presidents gave a fireside chat, the fire would go to sleep.
We are going to need to match Barack Obama's charisma to galvanize the grassroots. Rubio does that. We may have just this one chance to restore constitutional government. Let's not blow it by nominating another dreary loser because it's his turn.
"Chet Arthur" is a nom de cyber for a former Reagan administration official.