Why Conservatives Shouldn’t Give Up On Marco Rubio Just Yet

Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.” – Benjamin Franklin

I don’t know exactly when human authenticity was supplanted by slick, shiny roboticism, but politics is not the better for it. Modern politics is all about the gotchya moment, the moment when we can catch a politician making a mistake. Don’t interpret my word usage incorrectly; when I say “mistake,” I don’t mean a lie, or malfeasance on the part of a politician–I mean a genuine mistake in judgement from an otherwise strong candidate.

We are human beings, and as such, we are wildly imperfect. We should not expect a candidate to be perfect because we will be sorely disappointed every single time. We should not exile a candidate for a mistake made, especially when that candidate has since come to terms with his mistake. In fact, we should celebrate admitted growth, because it shows courage, vulnerability, and honesty. Basically, it shows humanity in a profession usually dominated by crocodiles.

I was as disappointed in Marco Rubio as any other conservative when he was a part of the gang of eight, pushing the “comprehensive” immigration reform bill. I put “comprehensive” in quotes because in association with immigration reform, it actually means “amnesty now, border security never.”

However, aside from that position, I admit that Marco Rubio is a strong candidate. He’s fiscally, and socially conservative, and on foreign policy, you couldn’t have a much better candidate. If anyone would like to argue with me on that last point, watch his speech against communism on the Senate floor, then get back to me.

During this year’s CPAC, Rubio told Sean Hannity that he has come to realize his mistake regarding the gang of eight bill:

“You have 10 or 12 million people in this country, many of whom have lived here for longer than a decade [and] have not otherwise violated our law other than immigration laws. I get all that. But what I’ve learned is you can’t even have a conversation about [illegal immigrants already in the country] until people believe and know, not just believe, but it’s proven to them, that future illegal immigration is brought under control. That is the single biggest lesson I’ve learned…The president not once but now twice has basically said by executive order, ‘I won’t enforce the law.'”

Now, regarding a “path to citizenship,” Rubio’s not necessarily where I want him to be. But here’s the thing: no other candidate has laid out a fully realized, reasonable, and detailed plan to deal with illegal aliens. There have been great sound bites, for sure. But opposition to amnesty does not a comprehensive, and alternative plan make. There has to be something more. There has to be a workable master plan, which could be implemented outside of a philosophical context.

Back during the 2012 election cycle, Newt Gingrich suggested that aside from deporting criminal illegals (those who have committed crimes in addition to the initial crime of illegally immigrating), we could allow illegals to stay, but never, ever give them full citizenship, and therefore, never give them voting rights. I personally think that’s a pretty strong contender, in terms of possible tracks we could follow, without giving Democrats what they want, which is 12 million new voters.

As of now, I don’t know what Rubio is thinking. Tomorrow, he could come out swinging in favor of full citizen rights, and at that time, I’ll be set, and ready to fully close the door on him. However, I am not yet ready to dismiss a contender as strong as he is because of a mistake he made two years ago.

Marco Rubio is a smart, articulate candidate—and most importantly, a candidate who is seemingly unafraid of the media. He seems to have seen the light, at least in terms of his participation in the gang of eight bill and the fact that he’s willing to admit that shows integrity, and honesty.

Is he my favorite candidate going into 2016? Not quite, no. But I won’t count him out. A candidate who is willing to admit fault is a rare, refreshing, and valuable commodity. And in my book, that’s enough to keep him near the top.