I woke up in our nation’s capitol this morning and asked my wife, "How shall we spend our last morning here?". We discussed museum possibilities as we drank coffee and perused The Washington Post. This article caught her eye,
It said that Marco Rubio was the sole Senator threatening to block Rex Tillerson’s bid to be our country’s secretary-of-state.
We found it refreshing. We don’t want Exxon’s president filling this important post. We need someone better, another John Kerry or Hillary Clinton, a person with experience in governmental foreign affairs.
Florida’s junior Senator must know that. Maybe he is becoming a more independent, a strong political leader for a change.
Was this a "New Marco"? One with a spine?
A rare Republican that actually finds fault with Russia’s attempts to taking over our country? Someone rejecting Tillerson because he might hand the Reds our front door key?
For the a last two weeks in committee hearings Rubio had been asking the oil zillionaire tough questions. He had accused Tillerson of having a serious bromance with Vladimir Putin, and like our new President, harboring doubts about what Russia did to help hand Trump the presidency.
These issues are huge, they threaten our country’s very existence. And now, The former Little Marco was Big, a forceful man leading the charge.
Francesca said, "Museums can wait. We need visit Marco a give him our support!".
I had to agree.
We had been in the world-changing Women’s March on Washington two days earlier and today, we had a chance to support our Senator, defeat the God of Exxon (Vladimir’s best buddy) and in the process, possibly save America.
Some weekend this turned out to be.
Bundled up for freezing rain we headed to the Senate Office Building. I’d never been there and very much enjoyed just being inside.
There are a hundred offices, I guess, as there are that many Senators. Each had the Senator’s name and the state represented on a bronze plaque next to the door. One had an additional one which read, “Former Office of Senator Harry Truman”.
Most doors were open and I waved at each senatorial desk jockey that I passed. I’m a gregarious person and I wanted to walk into each office and chat with as many Senators as I could.
But today we there to support just one, Big Marco, our new, feisty, Florida Senator. He and his staff of 18 fill suite 284. and when we walked in one of Marco’s many aides, Hunter Koski of Sarasota, greeted us. As I took this picture, he admonished,
“Please don’t take pictures”.
Sorry, I thought it was a pubic place.
After introductions we told Hunter that we wanted to speak with his boss and thank him for doing a good job. The aide nodded then told us the Senator was in a meeting. We asked to speak with someone who could tell him how proud we were for his tough stance against Tillerson.
Hunter responded, “Senator Rubio released a public statement ten minutes ago. He now supports Mr. Tillerson nomination”. Our jaws dropped; Big Marco suddenly became Little again. We had been duped by a huge publicity stunt.
When we asked “Why?” Hunter handed us a press release that said something like,
"I'm rolling over for the new President and am still the suck-up I've always been. I'll do whatever it takes to make the Republican Party a world power and Comrade Putin happy".
Actually, I didn't read it. What you just read was what I imagined. I'd see Rubio's spin in the next day's news. Hunter added that Rubio's nominating committee would have their final vote in four hours. With a Republican majority, they would probably be confirming the President of Exxon to be our next Secretary of State.
"Yikes" we thought, "What's our next move?". We asked Hunter if we could use a nearby desk. We took a photo of the depressing press release then put it on Facebook. We added, "Call Senator Rubio Now and complain. In four hours it will be too late!".
Changing the world can keep you busy.
We then let Hunter know that if the Senator was not going to be available, we wanted to speak with the aides that guide him on important issues.
A few minutes later, one-by one, we were introduced to Ansley Rhyne, Bethany Poulos, and Edwardo "Ted" Sacasa. All were friendly, young, Republicans chosen to do Rubio's bidding. We expressed our dire concerns with the Tellerson nomination, the Affordable Care Act, and appointing Betsy Devos to lead the Department of Education. When two other visitors from Jacksonville joined us, we were asked to take our discussion out into the hallway.
It seems that Trump is creating an "anti-government" which starts with an "anti-cabinet".
Most of his cabinet choices are going to lead departments that, in the past, they have said that they want to eliminate. He's choosing foxes to guard the hen house.
Go down the list, Rick Perry for Department of Energy? An EPA pick that doesn't believe in global warming? And Betsy Devos leading our public schools? She's never supported them and in fact, wants to privatize them. As one sign said at Saturday's March, "Trump's cabinet? I've seen better ones at IKEA".
Rubio aide Ted Sacasa told Francesca public schools like hers (in a poor North Miami neighborhood) are "fail factories" that need more competition. Ted was a political science major in college.
So there we were, discussing the future of our country in a hallway with folks that advise the Senator who -an hour earlier- had given us hope in the Age of Trump.
I told Rubio's aides my bottom line,
You and your Senator are threatening the future of our country. You want to privatize our government, our schools, and weaken and eliminate the very institutions that protect us. We're watching you do that now.
We won't let you. The majority of the voters do not support you, your Senator, and the President. Listen to the millions of people who protested in Washington and around the world yesterday. We abhor the President's dangerous policies. We're asking you to change your direction and stop letting corporations take over our country. Don't do what's best for them, but what's best for our citizens.
Yes, I don't remember it word-for-word but what I just wrote is pretty close. It felt good to speak the truth to the injustice surrounding us in the cold Senate Office Building.
Francesca then made her closing argument with Rubio's two remaining aides, those with supposed expertise in education and healthcare. She was brilliant as she reminded them that public schools are the backbone of our nation. Letting Betsy Devos, who has no experience in education, head our Department of Education, would be a terrible choice. Healthcare? Getting rid of the Affordable Care Act without first finding a suitable replacement was irresponsible, just a mean political move. We can do better. Much better.
Francesca also reminded them of millions who took to the streets yesterday. Senator Rubio's aides said they would share our concerns with him. We hope they do and hope it makes a difference.
All of us need to speak out in difficult times. We shared our thoughts then thanked Rubio's assistants for meeting with us. We walked away from Little Marco's office and back into the freezing rain. It felt more comfortable there.