Washington, D.C. - Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) offered the keynote address at the American Principles Project's State Lunch event Tuesday. He spoke on a topic too often overlooked or completely forgotten in Washington: the American family.
"We cannot be a strong country if we do not have strong communities," Rubio began. We yearn for a "unifying national identity."
Rubio told the audience we need to re-embrace a few core conservative and "timeless" principles: The dignity of work, the family as a central institution, community life, and the pride in the greatness of America.
"Americans aren't just consumers," Rubio explained. "Human beings cannot flourish without a sense of accomplishment that comes from dignified work."
The GOP can't just be about growing the economy. They have to be about "providing opportunities to have dignified and productive work."
We also need to focus on the family, an institution Rubio said is currently "under assault and in decline." Nowadays, over 40 percent of children are born outside of marriage, Rubio regretted. He also sounded off on social engineering which he says "is seeking to replace family life." In the current anti-family culture, the "winners" in this society are those who spend the least amount of time with their children or have fewer children in the first place. Rubio seeks to restore family life and it's why he fought so hard for the Child Tax Credit last year, even if it meant sparring with members of his own party. It was worth it, he said, because parents will have more money in their pockets next year. The senator also was proud to help introduce the first GOP plan for a national paid family leave.
Rubio said they next need to bolster communities. Local entities should be allowed to administer safety net programs, train workers for employment and guide students through the education system, he said. Government has an important role, but it needs to have its "limits." Churches and civic organizations can just as well find solutions, he offered.
Finally, he talked about the need for human beings to have a sense of belonging. There's nothing wrong with a sense of "authentic American nationalism" as long as it's "never" racial or ethnic.
"America has never been a racial or ethnic homeland," he said. "Our national identity is not a skin color. It is that anyone can be an American."
If we fail to follow these principles, Rubio warned, "we will be the first generation of Americans to fail to pass on a better country than the one that followed."
In tandem with Rubio's remarks, the APP Foundation unveiled its “Contract with American Families,” laying out a new, comprehensive agenda for the pro-family movement as we head into a new political environment in 2019. You can read the full contract here.