We've already addressed some of the vicious personal, political, and even religious attacks directed at Florida Senator Marco Rubio, which have only escalated after Rubio stated that he does not share the gun control vision advocated during Saturday's 'March For Our Lives' rally. For weeks, the state's junior senator has been attempting to achieve the difficult balancing act of standing up for his pro-Second Amendment principles while working with victims, survivors and activists with differing views, with an eye toward finding common ground and enacting viable solutions. This approach has earned him scorn from both ends of the political spectrum; some "don't give an inch" conservatives have accused him of selling out and failing to hold the line in the face of pressure, while anti-conservative leftists have dismissed his work as phony, empty gestures that amount to do-nothing cowardice. Listening to the loudest voices, this seems like a lose-lose for Rubio, precipitating frustration among his supporters:
Out of all politicians in this country, Rubio seems the only one willing to put himself in the middle of this mess to try and get stuff done, and both sides are brutalizing him for it. Any wonder nothing ever gets done?— neontaster ?? (@neontaster) March 25, 2018
Sometimes the incentives in our political system do seem rather perverse. That's especially true when opponents are willing to make things up:
I agree with Pat Toomey (R-PA) on almost nothing but give him credit for putting forward a bipartisan bill on background checks in 2013.— Jon Favreau (@jonfavs) March 25, 2018
Marco Rubio voted against that bill and has offered nothing. He’s getting brutalized because both sides rightly suspect he’s a phony. https://t.co/fchvdnEKvO
That's a former Obama speechwriter -- speaking for a clique that despises Rubio -- who responded to factual corrections by shifting goalposts, ignoring details that further dismantled his preferred narrative, then changing the subject (in response to which I trolled him a little). But in spite of a number of mounting frustrations, there have been some rewards for Rubio's laudable efforts at consensus-building. As Cortney noted earlier, CNN finally issued a correction for their inaccurate portrayal of Rubio's post-Parkland work on gun violence issues, which was so unfair that even some persistent Rubio detractors on the Right came to his defense:
In another meaningful moment from CNN's wall-to-wall coverage from the National Mall, the mother of a murdered Parkland teacher praised Rubio for his earnest attempts to listen and offer leadership toward achievable goals. She explained how the Senator called her and spoke with her for 45 minutes, even though she's not even technically his constituent. Watch through the last part of her comments:
"When I was first told that he had called, I was like, 'oh, why am I talking to him? He doesn't believe in anything that we want to have happen.' [But] it was so amazing. I was so pleasantly surprised ... we talked a lot about common ground...If there are ten issues, he said, 'if five of them we all agree on, why don't we pass those five, and then let's debate the other five?' And at that point, he had me."
Ms. Schulman also had a message for the students who've accused Rubio and other NRA-supported politicians as having 'blood on their hands,' or selling out to the gun lobby at the expense of kids' lives: "One of the students was holding up [a sign reading], 'Marco Rubio took this amount of money from the NRA.' I really feel like we need to get past that," she said. Schulman sounds like an adult who was genuinely interested in preventing future horrors, which requires building imperfect consensus with people who don't agree on everything. She does not sound like a partisan activist primarily interested in gaining attention and scoring cheap, ugly political points. Our national debate needs more of her and less of the type of activist she admonished in her answer. At The Atlantic, Reihan Salam writes that Rubio is playing the role of a politician representing a party and a nation in transition:
There’s something about Senator Marco Rubio that inspires seething hatred in his detractors. But what is it, exactly? It’s natural that progressives wouldn’t be terribly fond of him, as he is an avowed conservative. What’s puzzling, though, is that Rubio seems more intensely disliked on the left than politicians well to his right, who don’t share his zeal for making the tax code more generous towards the working poor. Rubio’s critics on the right, meanwhile, ridicule him for his inconstancy, and his supposed tendency to buckle under pressure. Yet many of these same critics are admirers of President Donald Trump, who is hardly a model of ideological rectitude. The real reason Rubio is such a lightning rod, I suspect, is that it is in his nature to cross cultural and political boundaries...It’s easy to see Rubio as a tragic figure. But that would be a mistake. Right now, his boundary-crossing makes him a target. In the years to come, as the country continues to change, and as the need for new settlements that can reconcile the clashing interests of newcomers and the established grows more urgent, we’ll need him, and others like him, all the more.
It's an insightful piece, but there's also this simpler explanation, especially as it relates to the professional Left's undying loathing of Rubio -- even when he's acting as the sort of conservative they claim to respect and want more of:
Rubio also outran Trump by a significant margin. I see his flaws as clearly as anyone else does, but the obvious truth is that he is hated with the online intensity that he is hated because he is perceived as a threat. The truest sort of hatred. https://t.co/PGSWdQez2A— Jeff B. (@EsotericCD) March 25, 2018
I'll leave you with one of the latest examples of why compromise is so difficult, even setting aside policy nuances. This type of rhetoric makes people of good faith not want to engage or give any ground: