The Washington Post evaluated Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio’s Senate career in a piece published Sunday night, and the takeaway is not particularly flattering for Rubio or the current state of the United States’ system of government.
Rubio had arrived at one of the least ambitious moments in Senate history and saw many of his ideas fizzle. Democrats killed his debt-cutting plans. Republicans killed his immigration reform. The two parties actually came together to kill his AGREE Act, a small-bore, hands-across-the-aisle bill that Rubio had designed just to get a win on something.
Now, he’s done. “He hates it,” a longtime friend from Florida said, speaking anonymously to say what Rubio would not.
The 44-year-old Floridian missed 10 percent of Senate votes last year, worse than all but 12 other senators, and missed 34 of 68 Foreign Relations Committee hearings and meetings. A vote he cast last Tuesday was his first in 26 days. It seems that Rubio has basically given up on the idea of ever getting anything done in the legislature, and he’s not running for re-election despite only having served one term. It’s not an entirely logical campaign position for someone who’s a member of the party that controls the House and Senate and who would of course have to work with Congress to pass laws as president, but he’s apparently decided to sell it as the principled decision of someone who knows that he can only really get anything done if he has more power:
“He wouldn’t be doing what he’s doing now if he were a quitter,” said Norman Braman, a Florida auto dealer and one of Rubio’s longtime donors.
That’s, at best, a tricky argument to make. On the other hand, as the Post points out, Rubio did arrive in Congress at one of its least-active and most-polarized moments ever, and his high-profile work on the behalf of a compromise bill on an important issue (immigration reform) died because of his own party’s intransigence. Rubio’s apathy might not be inspiring, but if there is a way to deal constructively with our current state of affairs, no one else in Congress has found it either.