Republican Presidential candidate Marco Rubio has been taking a lot of heat lately for missing over 40% of the votes that the Senate has had since announcing his run for office. He has escalated the missed votes over the last few months, drawing the attention of critics across the board.
These attacks are righteous but they’re misplaced. In the Senate, it’s about quality, not quantity. Here’s the transcript from a video we recorded. The actual video is below:
It’s hard for me to come out in defense of Marco Rubio since he’s in the middle of the pack of Republicans I’d like to see win the nomination, but recent attacks on his voting record in the Senate should be cleared up. To do this, we have to truly understand how the Senate works, something that most journalists attacking him don’t seem to comprehend.
There are many different types of votes that happen in Congress. The vast majority of them are, for better or for worse, meaningless. The tedious and methodical way that the American government works is unfathomable to most because it is designed for very slow processes and rare resolutions. Many of the votes that happen on the Senate floor are more symbolic than anything else. They might be designed to put Senators on record for their support or opposition to something simply for the sake of ammunition to be used for or against them in future elections. The recent vote to regarding sanctuary cities was an example of this, giving the Republicans a way to force the Democrats to block the bill through procedure. It never had a chance, but the vote was brought up anyway to force the Democrats to block it.
Then, there are the votes for the sake of constituent support. These are bills that are done to help individual Senators act on behalf of their own states and districts. Many fail. Others pass. Not much changes as a result but either way the Senator is able to use it as something to point to as attempted action in Washington for the local area.
It sounds bad and it’s probably worse than you think. Show votes are just as they sound – they’re for show. That’s not to say that Presidential candidate Marco Rubio or any other candidate should be missing so many votes, but the quality of the votes themselves should be the topic rather than the raw numbers. The Senate is the epitome of political games. That’s how it was designed and very little can be done to change that. Some might even argue that it shouldn’t be changed, that the system has only appeared to be broken for the last decade and a half. Some might even say that it’s the people rather than the system that’s actually broken. They might be right.
Senators like Rand Paul and Bernie Sanders are good Senators if you look at their scorecards. They don’t miss many votes. They’re present even when their vote doesn’t matter. One might argue that regardless of their ideas and political affiliation, they should be the model for Senators. That’s something we should probably consider – placing a maximum to the number of votes a Senator is allowed to miss regardless of whether they’re running for President or not. Until that happens, Rubio will stick to his position that he doesn’t need to be in Washington DC to place meaningless show votes when he can be out there trying to change the way the country actually operates.
Again, I’m not a supporter of Marco Rubio, but missing the most votes in the Senate since announcing his candidacy is not the real issue. We need to look at the votes themselves. In the Senate, quality counts. If he’s missing crucial votes and his absence swings the outcome, then he should be held accountable. If the system is changed to require a certain number of votes, then he should be held accountable. The way the system is in place today, there’s no reason he should be held accountable based upon a “gotcha” number that the media wants to him him on.