Early last year, Senator Marco Rubio gave a speech on the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s “War on Poverty.”
If you haven’t seen this speech, watch it now. This is a must-watch for any informed voter.
Here are 12 key quotes from Rubio’s speech:
- “For fifty years now, we have tried big government. Yet too many people remain trapped in despair. Now, we must try a new way.”
- “We are still a country where hard work and perseverance can earn you a better life…Yet we are rightfully troubled that many of our people are still caught in what seems to be a pervasive, unending financial struggle…every American deserves an equal opportunity to achieve success.”
- “For most Americans, their primary aspiration is to achieve a better life…to earn a livable wage in a good job. To have the time to spend with family and do the things they enjoy. To be able to retire with security. And to give their own kids a chance to do as well or better than themselves.”
- “70% of children born into poverty will never make it to the middle class. The uncomfortable truth is that there are now a number of other countries with as much or more opportunity than ours. In fact, more people in Canada go on to surpass the income of their parents than in the United States.”
- “America is still the land of opportunity for most, but it is not a land of opportunity for all. If we are to remain an exceptional nation, we must close this gap in opportunity.”
- “The truth is, the greatest tool to lift children and families from poverty is one that decreases the probability of child poverty by 82%. But it isn’t a government spending program. It’s called marriage.”
- “These economic, social, cultural and educational causes of opportunity inequality are complex. And they will not be solved by continuing with the same stale Washington ideas. Five decades and trillions of dollars after President Johnson waged his War on Poverty, the results of this big-government approach are in.”
- “Raising the minimum wage may poll well, but having a job that pays $10 an hour is not the American Dream. And our current government programs, offer at best only a partial solution. They help people deal with poverty, but they do not help them escape it.”
- “The erosion of equal opportunity is among the greatest threats to our exceptionalism as a nation. But it also provides us with an exciting and historic opportunity: to help more people than ever achieve the American Dream.”
- “The millions currently trapped in poverty and despair are a tremendous untapped resource. Just think of what it would mean for America to gain full use of the talents and abilities of all her people. They would develop new innovations to improve our lives, or help build the next great American company.”
- “I am but a generation removed from poverty and despair. Where would I be today if there had never been an America? What kind of lives or future would my children have if this was not a land of opportunity?”
- “Our status as a land of equal opportunity has made us a rich and powerful nation, but it has also transformed lives. It has given people like me the chance to grow up knowing that no dream was too big and no goal out of reach.”
Rubio isn’t your typical Republican presidential candidate. His background, his story, and his vision all appeal to demographics of voters that Republicans haven’t reached in decades.
Instead of constant appeals for tax cuts for corporations and rich people, he understands that the only true prosperity is equitable prosperity for people of all socioeconomic statuses.
Watch that speech again. Is there another Republican in the field that can speak so eloquently and authentically about poverty? Is there another Republican in the field that has a plan to solve poverty and promote prosperity for all?
Jon Schweppe is Deputy Director of Communications for American Principles in Action.