In my high school days before sex and environmental education and the general dumbing down of the population, memorization of some Shakespeare was expected in Miss Kauffman's 12th-grade English class. A favorite I still recall is this line spoken by Brutus in "Julius Caesar": "There is a tide in the affairs of men, which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries..."
Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) repeatedly says in various ways it is too soon, or he isn't ready, for higher office, such as vice president. He's been in the Senate for a little more than seven months and has delivered only two major speeches -- his maiden speech on the Senate floor and one last week at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif.
In the Reagan Library speech, Rubio laid out his philosophical foundation, something that must be at the heart of any policy.
Defining the proper role of government ought to be the central issue in the coming presidential campaign. Indeed, it should occupy our thoughts between campaigns because those of us who pay income tax are not getting a good return on our investment.
Here's Rubio: "We have the opportunity -- within our lifetimes -- to actually craft a proper role for government in our nation that will allow us to come closer than any Americans have ever come to our collective vision of a nation where both prosperity and compassion exist side by side."
That takes the "compassionate conservatism" of George W. Bush to a different level. To Rubio, prosperity is not the opposite of compassion. Rather, the two are -- or should be -- joined. Prosperity provides the means by which people can be compassionate to those truly in need, such as the disabled and elderly. It is also the ticket out of dependency for people who can work but have been robbed of their dignity by addiction to a government check. Dignity leads to many other character qualities, which advance the true welfare of an individual, benefiting society. Someone with dignity, self-regard and respect for others is unlikely to take part in a flash mob attack.
Rubio points to a path beyond the familiar "either-or" debate; beyond envy of the wealthy and multiple and ineffective programs to liberate the "poor." This repetitive scenario has produced, said Rubio, "a government that not even the richest and most prosperous nation on the face of the Earth can fund or afford to pay for. An extraordinary tragic accomplishment, if you can call it that."
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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