“Robotic.” “Choked.” Unsurprisingly, the post-New Hampshire debate publicity over Chris Christie’s “canned responses” attack on Marco Rubio has negatively affected the Rubio campaign. During the exchange, Christie ambushed Rubio for his rehearsed speeches after Rubio reiterated his statement that President Obama has a political agenda that is systematically impacting the nation. Regardless of whether one agrees with Rubio’s idea or not, from a pure debate perspective, those were not Rubio’s finest three minutes as a debater.
In the big picture, however, Rubio’s repetition does not make him a “robot” by a long-shot. Thus, before more individuals jump on the “Rubiobot” bandwagon, I ask them to consider another perspective on Senator Rubio’s moment that night.
Through the mainstream media’s lens, one sees Rubio’s “canned responses.” However, through another lens, one sees Rubio’s political consistency and issue commitment. Casting debate cosmetics aside, what the Senator really did was stick to his guns by sticking to his idea. He did not, for the sake of appearing agile or “un-canned,” retract his argument on President Obama’s leadership. Nor did he downplay the number of times he has expressed this legitimately-held issue. Had he done either of those two things, he would have truly been a political robot who felt it more important to neutralize Christie’s attacks on his personal image than to champion a core belief.
If a candidate truly feels so strongly about a certain matter, then they and their supporters would not obsess over how many times or with what exact words he or she expresses.
A good example of this from the other side of the aisle is Senator Bernie Sanders’ repetitive calls to “take on the billionaire class” and Wall Street. I do not see the media labelling him as “robotic” for such reiterations. Although I oppose Sanders’ views on such matters, I give him credit for at least sticking to these issues because he truly believes in them. The same principle should apply to Rubio, who has made it very clear since the beginning that he does not agree with President Obama’s agenda and its widespread effects on this nation. Rubio has a right to express this political claim, and in the heat of the moment at New Hampshire, he did not recede from the issue or its significance.
Above all, if Rubio’s idea is “robotic” I cannot imagine what we would have to call Trump’s “We’ve got no choice!” ultimatum in regards to solving illegal immigration or Clinton’s calls to build upon President Obama’s progressive but “pragmatic” efforts in order to “get things done.” Media critics and political pundits are magnifying something that already exists, and it exists for a good reason. It is election season, and while many have heard these statements numerous times already, many undecided and busy Americans may not have heard them at all.
As such, for those of you supporting or planning to support a candidate, make sure they will not buckle on their core beliefs when attacked for bringing them up repeatedly (à la Rubio.) As for ourselves, there will always be curveballs or personal attacks thrown at our own beliefs and ideas. This may cause us to stumble upon and put forth a response that is not as brilliant as what we want or are capable of producing.
But does that mean we retract or deny their belief? Do we become “robotic” for holding onto an argument that they have defended numerous times before? No. Staying with our ideas and even struggling with them show a commitment to illuminating their importance. Furthermore, it indicates an authenticity and perseverance so rare in today’s climate of opportunism. All these reasons are just as important for students in college classrooms to remember as they are for presidential candidates in televised debates.
Indeed, those who purport “Rubiobot” will linger. But Senator Rubio is already bouncing back strong from it: his substantive yet at-ease performance in South Carolina has largely dispelled any notions of “robotic” and has helped him gain even more momentum. The naysayers out there will always get their 15 minutes, but it is an individual’s consistency and mettle that allow him or her to prevail.
From Senator Rubio’s example, let us at Wellesley continue to be persistent and robust in our opinions. Let us continue to freely and constructively exchange ideas from all sides. Let us not hesitate to defend our own ideals, nor deny others to do so for theirs. This way we are not calculating robots, but humans with minds and wills of our own.