Kathryn Lopez

Later that afternoon, he offered some closing thoughts, laying out the competing worldviews that rule Washington. And, as if reminding voters that you get the government you ask for, he noted that the divide wasn't a Washington creation, that it instead reflects a split in America about what government is for and should be about.

"We borrow $120 billion a month to pay our $300 billion-a-month bill," Rubio said. "And that's just too much money." Nothing to disagree with there.

And so we debate the role of government over and over again. Does it exist to provide economic justice or opportunity? Do we tax the rich more because they make more money than they need, or bring in more taxpayers?

And there may not always be a compromise; choices need to be made. "Ultimately, we may find that between these two points there may not be a middle ground," Rubio said.

I could go on. But you can listen yourself. Listen particularly to a conversation Rubio recently had with Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, chairman of the budget committee. Ryan is another rising politician who is getting nudged to run for president. Why? Because he wants to find solutions; because he knows of what he speaks and because he can communicate his convictions about making America an exceptional, prosperous place for posterity.

This is also the heart of Rubio's message: We face a "generational choice," and every citizen has the power in their vote to write the story of how we kept the American dream alive.

Kathryn Lopez

Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of National Review Online, writes a weekly column of conservative political and social commentary for Newspaper Enterprise Association.