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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Rubio's first Senate speech invokes 'New American Century'



U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio delivered his maiden speech on the Senate floor Tuesday, tying the nation's immigrant past with his own and calling for a "new American century."

"Every single one of us is the descendant of a go-getter," said Rubio, the 40-year-old Republican from Miami. Of dreamers and of believers. Of men and women who took risks and made sacrifices because they wanted their children to live better off than themselves" (story here

Below, the speech as prepared for delivery.

Mr./Madame President, I have the honor of representing the people of the great state of Florida here in the Senate. And today I speak here from this floor on their behalf for the first time. This Senate is both literally and figuratively a long way from where I come from.

I come from a hard working and humble family. One that was neither wealthy nor connected. Yet I consider myself a child of privilege. I grew up blessed in two important ways. I was blessed to be raised in a strong and stable family. And I was blessed to be born here in the United States of America.

America began from a powerful truth – that our rights do not come from our government. Our rights, they come from God. Government’s job, is to protect our God-given rights. And here this Republic has done that better than any other government ever. America is not perfect. It took a bloody civil war to free over 4 million African Americans who lived enslaved. And it would take another hundred years after that before they found true equality under the law.

But since her earliest days, America has inspired people all over the world. It gave them hope that one day their own countries would be a place like this. But many decided they could not wait. And from everywhere, they came here to pursue their dreams and work to leave their children better off than themselves. The result was the American miracle.

Where a 16-year-old boy from Sweden, who spoke no English and had only five dollars in his pocket, was able to save and open a shoe store. Today, that store, Nordstrom is a multi-billion dollar global retail giant.

Where a young couple with no money and no business experience decided to start a toy business out of the garage of their home. Today, that company, Mattel, is one of the world’s largest toy manufacturers.

Where the French-born son of Iranian parents created a website called AuctionWeb in the living room of his home. Today, that website now called eBay stands as a testament to the familiar phrase, “Only in America”.

These are but three examples of Americans whose extraordinary success began with nothing but an idea.

But the American dream was never just about how much money you made. It is also about something that typifies my home state of Florida: the desire of every parent to leave their children with a better life.

It is a dream lived by countless people whose stories will never be told. Americans that never made a million dollars, never owned a yacht, a plane or even a second home. And yet, they too lived the American dream – because their hard work opened doors for their children that had been closed to them.

It is the story of the people who cleaned our office last night.  They work hard, so they can send their kids to college.

It is the story of the people who served your lunch today. They work hard so that one day their children will have the chance to own a business.

It is the story of a bartender and a maid in Florida, whose son now serves here in this Senate, and who proudly gives his testimony as a firsthand witness of the greatness of this land.

Becoming a world power was never America’s plan. But that is exactly what the American economic miracle made her. Most great powers have used their strength to conquer other nations. But America is different. For us, power also came with a sense that to those that much is given, much is expected. A sense that with the blessings God bestowed upon our land, came the responsibility to make the world a better place.

In the 20th century, that is exactly what America did. Politically, it led in two world wars so that others could be free. And it led in a Cold War to stop the spread of communism, and ultimately to defeat it. While our military and foreign policy contributions helped to save the world, it was our economic and cultural innovations that have transformed it. The fruits of the American miracle can be found in the daily lives of people everywhere.

Anywhere in the world, when someone uses a mobile phone, email, the Internet, or GPS they are enjoying the benefits of the American miracle. Anywhere in the world, when a bone marrow, lung or heart transplant saves a life, you see the value of the American miracle.
And on one night in July of 1969, all mankind witnessed the American miracle in one historic and unforgettable moment. For on that day an American walked on the surface of the moon, and it became clear that Americans…..they could do anything!

America’s rise was not free of adversity.

We faced a civil rights struggle that saw Governors defy Presidents, police dogs attack peaceful protesters, and bombs that killed little children in churches. We faced two oil crises, Watergate and American hostages in Iran. I grew up in the 1980s, a time when it was morning in America. Yet even then, we faced a war on drugs, we lost Marines in Beirut and Astronauts on the Challenger. We faced a devastating oil spill in Alaska and a terrifying new disease called AIDS.

Through challenges and triumphs, the 20th century was the American century.  A century where American political, economic and cultural exceptionalism made the world a more prosperous and peaceful place.


Now we find ourselves in a new century. And there is a growing sense that for America, things will never be the same. That maybe, this new century will belong to someone else. Indeed, we do stand now at a turning point in our history. One where there are only two ways forward for us. We will either bring on another American century, or we are doomed to witness America’s decline. A new American century is within our reach.

There is nothing wrong with our people. Americans haven’t forgotten how to start a business. They haven’t run out of good ideas.

We Americans are as great as we have ever been. But our government is broken. And it is keeping us from doing what we have done better than anyone in the world for over a century: Create jobs.

If we here in Washington could just find agreement on a plan to start getting our debt under control, if we could just make our tax code simpler and more predictable, and if we could just get the government to ease up on some of these onerous regulations, the American people will take care of the rest.

If this government will do its part, this generation of Americans is ready to theirs. They will give us a prosperous, upwardly mobile economy. One where our children will invent, build and sell things to a world where more people than ever before can afford to buy them.

If we can give America a government that lives within its means, the American economy will give us a government whose means are considerable. A government that can afford to pay for the things a government should do, because it does not waste money on things it should not do.

If we can deliver on a few simple but important things, we have the chance to achieve something that is hard to imagine is even possible. An America whose future will be greater than its past.


But sadly, right now, that is not where we are headed.

We have had no progress on the issues of our time because we have too many people, in both parties, that have decided that the next election is more important than the next generation.

And our lack of progress on these issues has led to something even more troubling. A growing fear that maybe these problems we have are just too big for us. Too big, even for America.


There is no reason to be afraid.

Our story, the story of America, is not the story of a nation that’s never had problems. It is the story of a nation that faced its challenges and solved them. Our story, the story of the American people, is not the story of a people who always got it right. It is the story of a people who, in the end, got it right. Let us never forget who we Americans are.

Every single one of us is the descendant of a go-getter. Of dreamers and believers. Of men and women who took risk and made sacrifices because they wanted to leave their children better off than themselves.

Whether they came here on the Mayflower, a slave ship, or on an airplane from Havana, we are all the descendants of the men and women who built the nation that changed the world.

We are still the great American people. And the only thing standing in the way of solving our problems is our willingness to do so.


Whether we do so or not is of great consequence. And not just to us, but also to the whole world. I know, that some say that because times are tough here at home, we can no longer worry about these things going on abroad. That when it comes to world events, America needs to mind its own business.

But whether we like it or not, there is virtually no aspect of our daily lives here in America that is not directly influenced by the world that lives around us. We can choose to ignore global problems, but those problems will not ignore us. One of my favorite speeches is one that talks about our role in the world. It was the speech President Kennedy was set to give, had he lived just one more day. It would have closed with these words:

“We in this country, in this generation, are- by destiny rather than by choice- the watchmen on the walls of world freedom. We ask, therefore, that we may be worthy of our power and responsibility, that we may exercise our strength with wisdom and restraint, and that we may achieve in our time and for all time the ancient vision of ‘peace on earth, good will toward men.’ That must always be our goal, and the righteousness of our cause must always underlie our strength. For as was written long ago “except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.”

Almost half a century later America is still the only watchman on that wall of world freedom. And there is still no one else to take our place.
What will the world look like if America declines? Well, today all over the world, people are being forced to accept a familiar lie, that the price for their security is their liberty.

If America declines, who will serve as living proof that liberty, security and prosperity are all possible together? Today, radical political Islam abuses and oppresses women, has no tolerance for other faiths and seeks to impose its views on the whole world.  If America declines, who will lead the fight to confront and defeat them?

Today, children are used as soldiers and trafficked as slaves. Dissidents are routinely imprisoned without trial, and subjected to torture, forced confessions and forced labor.

If America declines, who will take these causes as their own? What will the world look like if America declines? Well, who will create the innovations of the 21st century? Who will stretch the limits of human potential and explore the new frontiers?

If America declines, who will do all this, and ask for nothing in return?

Motivated solely by the desire to make the world a better place?

The answer is no one will. There is still no nation or institution in the world willing or able to do what we have done.


Ronald Reagan described America as a shining city on a hill. Now, some say that we can no longer afford the price we must pay to keep America’s light shining. Others say that there are new shining cities that will soon replace us. I say they are both wrong.  Yes, the price we will pay to keep America’s light shining is high, but the price we will pay if it stops shining will be even higher.

Yes, there are new nations now emerging with prosperity and influence.  And that is what we always wanted. America never wanted to be the only shining city. We wanted our example to inspire the people of the world to build one of their own. You see, these nations, these new shining cities, they can join us, but they can never replace us. Because the light coming from them is but a reflection of our own. It is the light of an American century that now spreads throughout the world.  A world that still needs America. A world that still needs our light. A world that still needs another American century.

I pray that with God’s help, that will be our legacy to our children and to the world. Mr./Madame President, I yield the floor.

[Last modified: Tuesday, June 14, 2011 5:58pm]


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