Republican Senate candidate Marco Rubio says:

“This race is not your traditional race… It is a referendum on our identity. This race forces us to answer a very simple question: Do we want our country to continue to be exceptional, or are we prepared for it to become just like everybody else?”

For Rubio, of course, American Exceptionalism means much emphasis on economic freedom and laissez-faire Capitalism. This is what he says the Democrats are trying to take away.

But wait a moment. According to the Conservative Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom, the U.S. is not the most economically free country in the world, and haven’t been since at least 1995, when the index was started. That honor goes to Hong Kong.

This is where the materialism ends and the nationalism begins. With the Republicans, it is not merely a matter of allowing the materialistic interests of money to triumph; it is also a fervent belief in the God-given superiority of America to all other nations. They are not completely devoted to economic freedom; if they were, the cry would be: “let us be more like Hong Kong”, not “let us remain exceptional”.

In my last post, I mentioned Marco Rubio and this idea that he is the Republican’s answer to Obama. Having watched his CPAC speech, I have to say I’m not terribly impressed. Sure, he’s sort of good-looking and fairly witty, but he doesn’t seem to have that intangible charisma that Obama, Clinton and Reagan all do. He sounded–and this is my opinion only–sort of whiny and weak. He seemed, at times, like he was whimpering.

Still, I wouldn’t write him off on the basis of this one speech, and he has many good qualities, but I just don’t see him as capable of going up against Obama.