At the onset of our nation’s history, two of our wisest, most politically gifted founding fathers instructed Americans, of both their age and ours, as to how to proceed on the stage of international affairs. Both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson issued the same warnings: avoid entangling alliances, do not engross our nation in the internal strife of other countries, and keep open the lines of trade and communication between our nation and the rest of the world community.
It is rather curious, then, that Senator Rubio’s attempts to portray Rand Paul’s brand of non-interventionism as “isolationism” can take root in the nation who now stands in the shadow of our founding father’s vision and their philosophical experiment in republican governance. To be sure, Senator Rubio has gained the approval and admiration of a good number of American voters and members of the American media. His ability to avoid substance in exchange for platitudes that remind voters of his humble roots, and his ability to out-testosterone other members of the stage through a youthful arrogance, endears him particularly to the hawkish wing of the Republican Party. What Senator Rubio fails to command, however, is a grasp of the meaning of the word isolationism, and the wisdom inherent in Washington and Jefferson’s positions on foreign affairs.
For those unable to view the debate, the moment I am referring to came after Senator Rand Paul and Senator Marco Rubio engaged one another on the concept of expanding the size of the American military. Senator Paul questioned how Senator Rubio’s claim of allegiance to fiscal conservatism meshed with his proposed one trillion dollar increase in defense spending. Rubio, having been exposed, did what all those who lack principle do in a moment of the truth catching up to them: he attempted to camouflage his lack of principles by misrepresenting those of Senator Paul. He shifted the substantive debate over military spending and continual debt by dismissing Senator Paul as an “isolationist.”
Senator Rubio would be wise to investigate the meaning of the terms he pejoratively utilizes when the truth provides an obstacle to his political aspirations. As defined, isolationism means “a policy of abstaining from political or economic relations with other countries.” How, one must ask, can Senator Rubio maintain a straight face while using such a word against an opponent? Senator Rubio, who has called for a continual trade embargo with Cuba and an end to all diplomatic relations with Iran and Russia, somehow thinks himself qualified to accuse someone else of attempting to “abstain from relations with other countries.” To quote libertarian media personality (and Rand Paul supporter) John Stossel: “Give me a break!”
Having proven Senator Rubio’s claim preposterous, I contend that in the next debate he seek to use a more appropriate term for Senator Paul: non-interventionist, fiscal conservative, or constitutionalist all provide Florida’s “credit card” Senator with a more appropriate option.
As Senator Rubio continues to struggle to find a world conflict which the United States should avoid, he echoes Hillary Clinton in asking Americans to continually endure the burdens of increased taxation and debt creation to finance rebels whose allegiance we do not know and can not trust. It was, after all, Senator Paul who warned Americans about the foolishness of arming rebels in Syria, arms and money which quickly found its way to ISIS. Additionally, Rubio’s unwillingness to engage in diplomatic relations with Russia and Iran, in conjunction with his political brinksmanship that remains committed to enforcing a no-fly zone for Russia in the Middle East, truly threatens the peace and stability of our nation and our world.
I am certain that a number of terms could appropriately be used to describe Senator Rubio. Unfortunately, fiscal conservative and peacemaker are not among them. If Republicans seek more wars, more false platitudes, more isolationism shrouded in hubris, and more debt, then Senator Rubio offers them a candidate who can rise to the occasion. If, however, they seek to elect a pragmatic constitutionalist who rejects the notion that warmongering and the promotion of the military industrial complex serve the interest of the American people, while advocating the policies of open trade and communication first outlined by true statesman like Washington and Jefferson, than I encourage them to take another look at Senator Paul. If nothing else, let us at least abandon the notion that the rejection of unnecessary, unconstitutional war in any way, shape or form reflects the doctrine of isolationism. We must be a better nation than that. Washington and Jefferson, even from their graves, urge us to be.