Our Senator, Marco Rubio has often been highly critical of President Obama. But for all of the criticism of the President, he seems to have studied his playbook well. Senator Rubio, after all, is planning a tour for his second book during an election year. He even gives grandstanding speeches fit for any junior senator eyeing the Oval Office. The most famous recent speech was on the Senate floor, where he called out the characterization of America as a country of “haves and have-nots.” He prefers to refer to us a nation of “haves and soon to haves.” Has he been around Miami Dade County lately? Just last week, Jackson Health Systems announced it was laying off over a thousand health professionals, making a place on Miami’s unemployment line the only thing those workers are “soon to have.”
So what makes Rubio so out of touch with his constituents? Has he been spending too much time writing his book? On his haircut? Giving speeches on the floor? Or maybe his trip to the top of the political ladder has happened while Miami has fallen to the bottom of a bunch of “worst of” lists: the poorest city, the most miserable city, the largest cuts to social services, the biggest gap between the “haves” and the “have-nots” (or if you are Rubio, the “soon to haves”). Maybe that space between his rise to the top and Miami’s trip to the bottom has left him a little out of touch.
This week, he had a chance to get back in touch with his constituents that believe he has turned his backs on them. 1Miami headed to DC, Miami’s struggling neighborhoods in tow, to try yet again to meet with Senator Rubio. This time, after 6 months of meeting requests and two trips to DC, he finally agreed to a sit-down. He met constituents like Rosabla Campos. She used to support Marco Rubio. But this past week, she went to Washington DC to give him a piece of her mind.
Rosabla was a security guard in the big buildings downtown owned by some of Miami’s richest corporations. Some of those corporations are the same big banks that were bailed out by taxpayers. But while they made record profits and paid almost nothing in taxes, security guards and janitors in those buildings barely made minimum wage. When Rosabla’s hours were cut at her security job, she couldn’t afford the commute to work with the money she was making. While in DC, she finally got a chance to tell Senator Rubio what life is really like for a “soon to have-not.”
The question is, will he listen or will he go back to planning book tours and big speeches? In the next few months, the neighborhoods he claims to represent will see if he steps up to the challenge to help us deal with the Great Recession or if he keeps talking about his American Dream instead of helping us defend ours.