Friday, February 22, 2013

(Politics) Marco Rubio: Saviour of the GOP?

Marco Rubio has quickly ascended to a major figure of the GOP and is seen as a potential candidate for the presidency in 2016 but will he really be the change that Republicans need in order to become electorally viable again? The Carnage Report doesn’t think so and here’s why. In lieu of President Obama’s re-election and convincing defeat of Mitt Romney, the penny had dropped for Republicans across the land; the GOP had to change in order become electorally viable. The party had long relied on the southern strategy to win the Whitehouse and the 2012 election put paid to classic republican election strategy of being hard where Democrats were soft.

Republicans for years ignored demographics the Democrats have learned to perfect their sales pitch to and have won lost presidential elections because of it. Taking stock of the Democrats appeal to a wider demographic and the fact that democrats and indeed the country is looking to see if the GOP can change its positions or at least be able to bargain with, with immigration reform sure to be the litmus test as it is clearly one of  the president’s key policy priorities.

There are signs that the GOP may be changing with Louie Gohmert, A Texas congressional republican who is as right wing as it gets and was against Affordable Healthcare, stating publicly that temporary workers (who are mostly immigrants) should have their healthcare paid for by their employers[1]. However, while it does represent some progress, Gohmert motivation for backing this measure was his anxiety over “immigrants benefiting from tax-payer funded health care programs” in knowledge of the fact that immigrants receiving state benefits are less than popular[2].

This kind of logic also informs the GOP sudden push for their members to embrace immigration reform in an attempt to attract Latino voters to the party. Marco Rubio popularity is fuelled by this need to make some progress on immigration despite the fact that Marco Rubio is quite conservative on the immigration reform. Upon the news of a leak of the Whitehouse’s draft immigration reform bill that would reportedly “offer more than 11 million undocumented immigrants a pathway to residency”, Marco Rubio stated empathically that should its bill reach the floor of congress “the bill would be “dead on arrival” and called the bill “half baked and seriously flawed”[3]

Rubio also implied that bill is unfair due to the bill allows for “special pathway” that favors illegal immigrants despite the fact that Rubio has proposed an immigration bill quite similar to the bill drafted by the Whitehouse. The bill mimics the Whitehouse draft bill as it supports the “pathway to residency” clause he outright criticised in the Whitehouse’s version[4].  It can easily be presumed that Rubio bowed to party pressure as fellow republicans publicly attacked the Whitehouse bill with Rand Paul seeing the plan as “untenable” stating that the “bill won’t pass”[5].

Rubio’s position on Israel is no real surprise but his commitment to Israel counterproductive plan to make Jerusalem it capital was confirmed when on a visit to the country, Rubio revealed he saw Jerusalem as “…the capital or Israel”[6].  Israel has made plans (‘E1 development’) to further encroach into the west bank by building new settlements on land that is seen by many that, if successful, it would make the two-state solution impossible as a policy choice[7].

Israel unveiling of it plans to increase settlements in the West Bank drew widespread criticism including from numerous member states of the EU, UN, and even the United States[8]. A spokeswoman from the US State Department expressed that the United States “was deeply disappointed that Israel insists on continuing this pattern of provocative action”[9]. The spokeswoman continued to point at the continued hypocrisy of Israeli Leadership as she rightly noted that “Israeli leaders continually say that they support a path towards a two-state solution, yet these actions only put that goal at further at risk”[10].

However in the face worldwide criticism of their expansion policy regarding the West Bank, Israel has continued its controversial plans to build settlements with the housing the state “issuing tenders for hundreds of housing units in the West Bank settlements of Karnel Shomron and Efrat”[11]. Despite the consternation towards Israel’s settlement plans, Rubio contradicts the position of his own country by siding with Israel’s isolating and conflict inducing position looking to beef up his foreign policy profile by stating his views “on some of the nation’s (Israel) thorniest issues”[12].

While photo ops with Shimon Peres and Benjamin Netanyahu may help his foreign policy profile, Rubio has supported a position that the people of Israel are clearly split on and may even like to see slow down or stop completely. According to ThinkProgress’s Hayes Brown, “Fifty-four percent of respondents were in favor of a Palestinian state, with only 38 percent opposed”[13].

In an survey taken by 600 Israelis, contrary to Israel’s well-earned reputation as a militarized country, 81.9% of Israels “think settlements should be the first source of budget cuts”, even among the Israel’s strong right wing contingent there is majority support for “diverting funds from settlements to help balance the budget”[14].

However for all the encouraging polls suggesting that the people of Israel would like to see an ease in the building settlements and military conflict, the hopes of this happening are depressing to say the least with a decisive “54 percent of those polled believe that a peace deal with the Palestinians is impossible”[15]. The country, as far as support for settlements are concerned, has no definite position with Support and opposition “split in half, with 43 percent opposed and 43 percent in favour”[16].

With the evidence available, It was unwise for Rubio to take a position on an contentious issue and is a reliable sources for the international to pour condemnation on Israel and further isolate a country already low on friends and high on military intent.

[1] I. Volsky, 2013, Right-Wing Congressman Suddenly Embraces Ahealth Care…For Immigrants,
[2] Ibid
[3] K. McDonough, 2013, Marco Rubio threatens White House leaked immigration bill would be “dead on arrival”,
[4] C. Joseph, 2013, Marco Rubio Rejects His Own Immigration Proposal, Because of Barack Obama,
[5] Fox News, 2013, Republicans rip Obama immigration plan ; Rubio calls it ‘dead on arrival’,
[6] A. Esenten, 2013, Visting Senator Marco Rubio:Of Course Jerusalem I Israel’s Capital,
[7] H. Sherwood et al, 2012, Israel stands by settlements plan despite growing diplomatic crisis,
[8] Y. Benhorin, 2012, US: Israel Settlement Plans Provocative,,7340,L-4321795,00.html
[9] Ibid, Quoted by Benhorin
[10] Ibid, Quoted by Benhorin
[11] Ibid
[12] S. McLaughlin, 2013, Israel stop a boost to Marco Rubio’s foreign policy profile,
[13] H. Brown, 2013, POLL: Israels Support Palestinian State But Split On Settlements,
[14] A. Zeiger, 2013, Poll: Israels say defunds settlements to balance budget,
[15] H. Brown, 2013, POLL: Israels Support Palestinian State But Split On Settlements,
[16] Ibid

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