Interpreting Marco Rubio at GOP Debates: What He Really Means

  • Graphic Madeleine Gendreau

Of all the words Senator Marco Rubio could have used to open the second round of the second Republican debate, “aware” was probably the worst.


“I’m aware,” said Rubio, revealing a tiny plastic bottle behind his pulpit, “that California has a drought right now. That’s why I made sure I brought my own water.” The Californian audience did not laugh; apparently, Rubio was not aware.

Later, when asked whether he would institute an “insurance policy” for the economy, just like Reagan did, just in case climate change was real, Rubio blew off the idea.

“We’re not going to destroy our economy,” said Rubio.

“[These policies] will not stop the rise of the sea. They will not cure the drought here in California. What they will do is make America a more expensive place to create jobs. And today, with millions of people struggling pay cheque-to-pay cheque, I am not in favour of anything that is going to make it harder for them to raise their families.”

This from someone who said—just over an hour earlier—that America must engage with the world, that isolationism was dangerous. “Protecting Americans is the #1 priority of the President,” he said.

At the risk of sounding petulant, jobs don’t exist without food. Economies don’t exist without roads, cities, or land. Building infrastructure to protect Americans from rising sea levels won’t hurt Americans, yo. How exactly would ending a drought make job creation in California more expensive? Rubio wants to help pay cheque-to-pay cheque Americans? I guess he means the pay cheque-to-pay cheque Americans who won’t find it harder to raise their families when their homes are destroyed. That’s not hyperbole. Hurricane Sandy cost $75 billion, Hurricane Katrina $108 billion. As a Senator from Florida—a state with everything to lose—you’d think Rubio would be more aware.

I can’t make sense of the man. He’s running on a platform of responsible leadership but thinks that if America can’t solve a problem alone, the problem can’t be solved. If “America is a country, not a planet,” then America is just another soldier in the war on climate change. But these Republicans who abhor freeloading are content to let the rest of the world fight for them, apparently. Cut the shit and pick up your rifle, Marco.

You know, this was supposed to be fun. I was going to explain some silly quotes and have a laugh. When Trump said, “I’ve seen a beautiful child; [he] went to have the vaccine. A week later got a tremendous fever, got very very sick, now he’s autistic,” I was going to write what he really meant: “Smiling Poo Emoji.”

Or how Trump’s “I’ll take care of women. I respect women… I would like to get back to the Iran situation,” actually meant: “Please don’t remember when I was accused of marital rape. Now back to discussing uranium RODS and nuclear MISSILES and wrinkly white PENISES.”

But then I found my Rubio notes.

I can laugh about the stupidity, recklessness, and cruelty, because I have the privilege of distance, because policy fuckups can always be fixed later. But the environment is permanent. It’s not getting fixed. We’re stuck with it.

I want my future children to have same luxuries that I have: spending six straight hours watching a nauseating debate, twice, until 3:30 a.m. For that to happen, we need to take things a little more seriously. We need to elect people who respect us enough to make sense. We need to elect people who are aware. It’s a shame there are so few.

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