… my brother asked me why I didn’t just have a newsletter, like everyone else, instead of writing whole paragraphs on Twitter—which isn’t designed for paragraph-length thoughts. I didn’t really have a good answer to that, except to say that I like Twitter. Probably because play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do. He reckoned I should start a newsletter, populate it with my random thoughts, get a bunch of subscribers, then ask people to pay. He was sure this would work.
I dunno. Worth a try, right?
Yesterday I watched this video of Marco Rubio addressing the Forum Club. “America,” he tweeted when he posted the link,
must confront the fact that our economy has left millions feeling forgotten; our politics is driven by deepening divisions; and our culture rejects reason, and rewards outrage, conspiracies, and myths.
(I have corrected his punctuation.)
I found it interesting and worth the 55-odd minutes. (I needed something to listen to while working out.) If you have the time, watch it before judging. I don’t agree with him about everything, but agree with him about many things.
What strikes me above all is that he’s sane, coherent, thoughtful, and decent. The GOP had a choice; they could have nominated him—but chose Trump instead. That’s truly an indictment. This nonsense about “the alternative was Hillary” is just that, nonsense.
What I read between the lines—perhaps mistakenly—is the way he understands why he’s fallen dutifully in line behind Trump. It’s a reasonable argument, if I’ve correctly understood it. The argument is, “We live in a democracy, and if the people chose Trump, it would be presumptuous, arrogant, and despotic for me to fail to respect that choice. I must therefore do my best both to understand that choice and respond to their desires, not mine—that’s my role as a public servant—while at the same fulfilling my role in a representative democracy, that is, to push policy in the direction that I, as a professional politician, think would be best for the country.” I think that's what he’s getting at.
There’s some self-justifying cowardice in that view, but there’s also, I sensed, real humility. He’s politically trapped in many ways: He tries for example to emphasize the reality and seriousness of Russian interference in US politics while the same time dismissing as ludicrous the speculation that the President “is a Russian agent.” This is weaselly. The serious question isn’t whether the president is “a Russian agent,” in the classic sense of the term, it’s whether he’s influenced by Russia, in debt to Russia, or so defective and unfit personally that he’s unable to say what Rubio says plainly about Russia. Whatever the case, it’s not a conspiracy theory on the order of “Clinton killed Epstein” to say, “Something is very wrong with the President. The evidence for this includes his inability to say frankly what Rubio says about Russia’s role in in American politics.”
But overall, I had the sense of a thoughtful and intelligent man who is doing his best to make sense of what’s happening to the country and to serve it honorably.
I disagree with his judgment. Even though the people chose Trump, there comes a point where his party has to say, “Democracy is not the only value in the United States. We have an obligation, too, to be honest about the President.”
But I do understand his caution about telling voters, “Whoa, did you make a mistake.” The people are sovereign, not Marco Rubio.
I doubt everyone in the GOP is so submissive and mouse-like entirely because they’re selfishly concerned for their careers. I suspect for many it’s bound up in that principle: In a democracy, politicians can’t just say to voters, “You’re wrong. I know better than you do.” Even if they do.
Saying such a thing is fundamentally undemocratic. I get it. Rubio seems to be doing his best here to listen to what the voters said, and figure out how what they want can be resolved with his own beliefs.
I suspect he’s also excessively afraid that if he speaks out against Trump, he might be doing so out of vanity, or sour grapes. I get the sense he may be wary of his own motives. Perhaps he’s unsure how to disambiguate his sense of what would be good for the country from that which would be pleasing to his vanity.
What a shame, though, that out of a slate of some 18 candidates, at least three or four of whom were as thoughtful, sane, and coherent as Rubio, Trump was the overwhelming choice of the GOP.
I use the word “shame” literally; I don’t mean “What a pity.” Shame on them all.