Surveying the dysfunctional mess that passes for our current system of government, a recent observation in an interview makes it all come clear. The speaker observed that those we elect today are more interested in politics than policy.
Policy is the way in which government can provide the most service, most efficiently for the least expense. If you want to prevent children from starving to death in the midst of plenty, you devise a system that makes sure that starving children get food, get it in an efficient and effective manner, at the least cost. That’s policy.
Politics, on the other hand, debates whether or not feeding starving children is worth the money.
We currently have a bunch of politicians who run for office on the platform that they want to do away with most of the very government of which they wish to be a part. Politicians who are interested in politics seldom produce much in the way of governance. Politicians who are interested in policy are the ones who get things done.
I have very mixed feelings these days about Senator Marco Rubio. On the one hand his tireless self-promotion runs counter to the long-term benefit of this state. The Senate is a club and the rules are that you earn your place. Let a TV light go on and Rubio is drawn like a moth to a flame and we all know what happens to the moth. Rubio’s constant playing to the cheap seats is getting old and his colleagues, the ones who give out committee assignments, are liable to make that clear one of these days.
Rubio came up through the term-limited Florida Legislature where sharp elbows and ambition trump any understanding of policy and issues. You leave that to the lobbyists. You gotta get it fast, no time to learn the job. That’s not true with the US Senate. Rubio’s time in office, thus far, has been a merry-go-round of self promotion. He’s the darling of the Tea Party, Mr. Small Government personified. He has managed to avoid the lunatic aspects of Rand Paul and Texas’ very own exercise in cynical self-promotion, Ted Cruz, but he had made the right-thinking of this country feel all glowy about a Presidential run in 2016.
But Mr. Rubio is not a politics-only politician, he’s interested in policy. Mr. Rubio has embraced immigration reform as an issue. That’s one issue that won’t buy him any friends on the far right. They believe that foreigners should be kept out, America for Americans. At some point, if your name is DeMint, some scruffy little Frenchman arrived aboard a steamer in steerage with a battered suitcase and a lot of hope, a point former Senator DeMint has forgotten.
Senator Rubio hasn’t. He is very close to a guy called Rubio who came here, worked hard tending bar, hoping his son could do better than he did. Which the son managed to do, thanks to government help and scholarships. When the Wall Street Journal plays up a study by the right-wing Heritage Foundation that claims every immigrant costs the US Government $600,000, Senator Rubio has the courage and the intellectual chops to say, “Rubbish.” That won’t help him with his Tea Party allies much, either.
That our immigration laws are a mass of contradictions, inequity and lacking in justice or decency is beside the point. Senator Rubio says we need to fix this mess. His political fellow travellers think it’s just fine the way it is, except we just need to deport all those damned Mexicans who have the nerve to work in our fields, on our construction sites and in our factories. Don’t let those gifted graduate students in the sciences stay here, send ‘em home to invent the next big thing in technology.
"Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" Some jackass is liable to put that on a statue someplace and take it seriously.
Marco Rubio gets it, he gets the policy bit; as I said, I have mixed feelings about Marco Rubio. I don’t care for most of his politics, but I admire his courage to stand firm against his fan club for intellectual honesty, for remembering who he is and where he came from and putting good policy before raw politics.
We need to start electing people to Congress who put policy first. Like Marco Rubio. They get things done. Maybe if somebody would turn off the TV lights?