There’s a few things about me that are very well-known. One, I’m a big Ron Paul fan and enthusiastically supported him in 2008 and 2012. Two, I have no problems voting outside of partisan affiliation, even going so far as to pick none of the above if I don’t feel that any candidate deserves my vote. (Jason Williams has gone so far as to call me a “true independent” on more than one occasion.) I will gladly and sometimes too gleefully rake the Republican Party (with which I am affiliated) over the coals for doing dumb things or picking dumb candidates. Third, I usually consider federal politics to largely be a lost cause, almost hopelessly locked in a cycle of appeasing people with more money than I am likely to see in my lifetime.
In this presidential election cycle, the candidate that most closely matches my views has, unsurprisingly, been Rand Paul. Like many sequels, he’s not quite as awesome as his dad. He takes a more hawkish tone on foreign policy than I generally care for, and he sometimes goes a little too far at appealing to the traditional conservative base of the party. All that said, he has a history of sticking to principle and working across party lines on issues important to him. That mix makes for success in politics.
Unfortunately, Rand is also running an absolutely awful campaign. He can barely break 5% in any poll. His fundraising numbers are tepid at best. There doesn’t appear to be the kind of organization needed to see things all the way through. At this point the only reason to stay in is as a contrast to the other candidates in the race, many of who are so similar ideologically as to be virtually indistinguishable.
Really, this is going to be a three-person race for the GOP nomination: Trump, Cruz, and Rubio. I’ve already detailed why I don’t think Trump has the staying power to pull it off, and he’s such an awful person, personally and ideologically, that I’d happily cast my traditional third-party vote for president if he’s on the general election ballot. Ted Cruz isn’t that much better in my book. His ability to turn allies into enemies with sharp acerbic criticism is about as mature as Trump and his courting of those low-information angry non-voters that Trump has amassed reeks of cheap pandering.
As FiveThirtyEight has pointed out, Rubio is the only GOP candidate that has a chance at the nomination and at winning the general election against Hillary. (Sorry, Bernie fans, it ain’t happening.) The thought of someone as skeezy and crooked as Hillary being president actually puts my stomach in knots. Many Democrats I know feel the same way, even if they won’t say that too loudly.
While there’s a compelling “lesser of all evils” argument to be made, I think there are reasons beyond this to support Marco Rubio both in the primary and general elections. Generally speaking, his rhetoric and record is one of a smaller and more limited federal government. He also has a history of trying to find areas of agreement with the opposition party and trying to build on that common ground. I don’t feel like he’s a blatant panderer either. I will still strongly disagree on his stances on civil liberties (particularly domestic spying) and his general attitude on foreign intervention is unpalatable to me. But as far as candidates go, he’s about as close to where I want to be as a mainstream candidate is likely to get.
No, I’m not going to be an all-in kind of supporter. I’m resigned to the coalition that forms the GOP not presenting me many of those options, the occasional Paul (Ron or Rand) or Justin Amash notwithstanding. But I am certain that Rubio is close enough to where I am and the alternatives are so awful that I can feel comfortable with the trade-offs involved with having him in the White House. GOP voters, it’s time to make Marco Rubio your pick for President of the United States.