During a conference punctuated by MAGA caps and intermittent chants of "Allons-y, Brandon!" Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) decided to make a serious appeal this morning.
"The American Revolution - what was revolutionary was that it had this bold idea that rights come from God, not from government," he said on the main stage of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando. "The founders of this nation understood that human nature is that if ever given power, there would always be people who would live, think, say the things they wanted to say and do the things they wanted to. do. And they've built safeguards against it. Because none of us are immune to it.
The 10-minute speech was meant as a warning about the left's abandonment culture and COVID-related mandates. Intentionally or not, it was also effectively a trial against the self-proclaimed “conservatives of the common good” who have spent the last few years demanding the proper support of a “muscular” government with the power to reshape society as it sees fit.
I summarized this view in 2020:
All societies have rulers, the conservatives of the will to power seem to say; What matters most is making sure our tribe is dominant.
Don't take my word for it. In a recent symposium published by The American Conservative, Julius Kerin, editor of American Affairs (to paraphrase his colleague Gladden Pappin), laments that "contemporary conservatism" lacks "a serious approach to the exercise of political power ". David Azerrad of Hillsdale College argues that conservatives must learn to be "manly", "fighting" and "comfortable" by "using the levers of state power...to reward their friends and punish their enemies". And Matthew J. Peterson of Claremont insists that "Conservatism must not simply make arguments...it must act upon them and wield 'regime-level' power in the service of good political order."
Rubio himself has embraced a rhetoric of the common good, beginning with a 2019 speech at the Catholic University of America. But his speech at CPAC at least raised the possibility that the senator, whose parents immigrated from Cuba to South Florida in 1956, has reconsidered that approach in recent years.
"I was raised by people and surrounded by people and to this day I live surrounded by people who know what life was like in other countries," he said. "They know how special America is, and they know what real tyranny looks like. And honestly, while they had a huge impact on my life, looking back now, I took their warnings for granted. about what happens to a society and a people when we empower those who believe their job is to tell the rest of us how to live, think and believe.
Ultimately, Rubio said, "the most precious thing we have" is our freedom, and when it's lost, "it's so hard to win it back, to get it back." He's right about that. Let's hope he sees the threat coming from both the right and the left.