The state of the union for the GOP is much like the state of the Catholic Church in that it finds itself in the same dilemma- without a leader and with one question, "What do we do now?" And while the answers may not be clear, one thing is certain: the Obama Administration has forced faithful Catholics and Evangelicals to work together as a cohesive force standing up for religious liberty.
Last night, Americans witnessed the embodiment of a Catholic/Evangelical mindset in Sen. Marco Rubio, whose compelling address walked the public through Conservatism 101. By suggesting solutions to fix our myriad problems and reminding America of its unique and God-given blessings, Rubio provided a face and principles for the GOP to coalesce around. Quite frankly, conservatives have been thirsty for an explanation as to why conservatism is a better alternative to big government.
By contrast, the president attempted to assure us that the state of our union is strong and our economy is thriving. In reality, $5.9 trillion has been added to the national debt since 2008, 53 percent say taxes on small businesses are hurting their operations, new spending cuts remain to be seen, and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the unemployment rate rose to 7.9 percent in January, up from December's rate of 7.8 percent. But still, Americans continue to fall for the president's tired rhetoric. Since when do words speak louder than actions?
Rubio is a smart, conservative Republican and devout Roman Catholic. He is also widely embraced by Latinos (60 percent of American Hispanics identify themselves as being Catholic), Catholics, and Evangelicals. In a Quinnipiac University survey of 1,772 registered voters, Sen. Rubio, who is among the Republicans mentioned as a possible 2016 presidential candidate, was more popular a political figure than President Barak Obama. Time Magazine recently called him "the Savior," to which he tweeted in pitch perfect response that he is not the Savior and that there is only One. Rubio is refreshingly human and last night's State of the Union address proved just that.
This is a time of introspection for the GOP, as its members are forced to re-assess what it truly means to be Republican. The key to the future of GOP political aspirations rests partially with Latino voters, known for their devotion to faith, fiscal conservatism, and strong family values. Latinos are in sync with Evangelicals on ideology and, thus, it makes sense for this growing ethnic group to align themselves with Conservatives. The GOP has been oddly AWOL when it comes to the Latino question.
Rubio's address tonight set the tone that should be followed by the GOP. Like Reagan, Rubio believes that America is exceptional and offers amazing opportunity to anyone willing to reach high and work hard. His statement that people have the "God-given right to go as far as their God-given talents will take them" is the kind of rhetoric that hits the mark, because it's written on our hearts. Rubio said, "Mr. President, I don't oppose your plans because I want to protect the rich. I oppose your plans because I want to protect my neighbors." Many of us have the same story as Rubio - no family money, just dreams and hard work - and we want those same opportunities for everyone.
No, Rubio is not the Savior; I agree there is only One. His message of opportunity transcends the divisions fanned by this administration and brings us together as Americans.