Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) delivers remarks on the U.S. Senate
Mitch McConnell’s decision to silence Elizabeth Warren on the Senate floor earlier this week drew massive media attention — and outrage among partisans of all stripes.
By contrast, few people paid much attention to the speech Florida Sen. Marco Rubio gave in the aftermath of the shushing of Warren. They should.
Rubio’s speech was a plea for civility in the Senate, a warning that if civilized debate dies in the Senate, it will die in the broader society too. It’s an important address — and one well worth spending eight minutes of your life listening to.
A few lines that really stood out to me:
“I don’t know of a civilization in the history of the world that’s been able to solve its problems when half the people in a country absolutely hate the other half of the people in that country.”
“We are becoming a society incapable of having debate anymore.”
“We are reaching a point in this republic where we are not going to be able to solve the simplest of issues because everyone is putting themselves in a corner where everyone hates everybody.”
“What’s at stake here tonight … is not simply some rule but the ability of the most important nation on earth to debate in a productive and respectful way the pressing issues before it.”
It’s easy, of course, to roll your eyes at Rubio. He, of course, is someone of considerable political ambition. And Rubio clearly believes it is in his long-term best interests to establish himself as a voice for civility and reasoned debate during his time in the Senate.
But simply because Rubio is a politician doesn’t mean that what he says should be dismissed out of hand. What Rubio is reacting to is something I hear time and time again when I talk to people about politics. When did “reasonable people can disagree” stop being something we believed in? Why can’t genuine debate not descend into name-calling? Why is confrontation the only way the two parties — and their leading politicians — seem to interact these days?