There Is No Evidence That Marco Rubio Would Be a Better President Than Donald Trump

Trust him. He knows exactly what he's doing.

Trust him. He knows exactly what he’s doing.

This morning, Nick Cassella shared an excellent Vox video about why the prospect of a Donald Trump presidency is so scary. And I agree: Donald Trump’s success is terrifying and disappointing. Obviously. He’s made his name, repeatedly, through hate speech. (It’s not a coincidence that the people Trump has problems with are nonwhite.)  He retweets white supremacists with alarming regularity. He is a terrible candidate, and the fact that he’s right now the Republican frontrunner should be a cause for shame among Americans.

But as the presidential field starts to slim down—so long, Jeb!—Republicans are coalescing behind a single establishment candidate. And it looks like that establishment candidate is Marco Rubio. Vox has also published a piece by Matthew Yglesias about why Rubio is a terrifying candidate. It identifies Rubio’s three biggest problems—his budget is ludicrous, his foreign policy is potentially disastrous, and he’s bad on civil liberties—clearly and concisely. We here at Civic Skunk Works have been on the Rubio tip for a while now. We’ve written a lot about his failures as a candidate. A partial list follows:

• Hanna Brooks Olsen wrote about Rubio’s problematic take on the minimum wage. In short: Rubio knows you can’t survive on the minimum wage, but he still wants to keep the minimum wage low. What alternative does this give the working poor in America?

• Nick Cassella has written about Marco Rubio’s plans to address college debt, which many people suggest would result in something no better than “indentured servitude.”

• And I have written about Rubio’s astounding lack of ideas, and investigated the many serious problems with Rubio’s tax plan:

What you have here is a candidate who believes the wealthiest Americans—the top 1 percent, yeah, but more importantly the top 0.0003 percent, according to Bernstein—pay too much in taxes. And so naturally Rubio’s tax plan would result in significantly less revenue for the government. Wait, did I say “significantly?” I mean “disastrously.” Ramesh Ponnuru, senior editor for the conservativeNational Review, noted in Bloomberg: “The Tax Foundation estimated that over the first 10 years that revenue reduction would amount to $6 trillion, unless the reform boosted economic growth.”

One would hope that as Rubio gains attention as the establishment candidate, the media will do more digging into the papier-mâché of his policies and uncover them as farcical.

The truth is, the Republican establishment is betting the house on a candidate who is about as reactionary as the outsider candidate they’re trying to defeat. The difference between Trump and Rubio is not nearly as huge as the Republican National Committee would have you think. Beneath that younger and slightly slicker package is a dangerously unrealistic candidate — just like Trump.



Paul Constant
Paul Constant has written about politics, books, and film for Newsweek, The Progressive, the Utne Reader, and alternative weeklies around the country.