On Monday, Senator Marco Rubio announced he'll be running for president in 2016. At 43, he's the youngest candidate thus far, and he's attempted to capitalize on this by characterizing himself as a leader for the future.
During his announcement speech, Rubio contended that it's time for "a new American century," stating:
Too many of our leaders and our ideas are stuck in the 20th century. Yesterday is over and we're never going back.
This was an obvious jab at some of the older presidential contenders, such as Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton. It's a savvy move that's somewhat reminiscent of President Obama's 2008 campaign, in which "change" was the primary theme.
The fact of the matter, however, is that many of Rubio's political positions are regressive, and would hardly lead us into a "new century." Moreover, while he may be relatively young, his views stand in direct contrast with those of Millennials on a wide array of issues.
1. Climate change.
Marco Rubio does not believe human activities have led to climate change. He's also argued that his opinion doesn't really matter, given he's "not a scientist."
Rubio is right about one thing, he's definitely not a scientist, or an expert on this issue.
But he's wrong that his opinion doesn't matter, as anyone running for president has a duty to acknowledge how imperative it is that we address climate change.
According to NASA, 97 percent of climate scientists agree climate change is a product of human activities.
During his State of the Union speech earlier this year, President Obama stated, "No challenge poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change."
The Pentagon has also designated climate change as a threat to national security. And the United Nations General-Secretary, Ban Ki-moon, has contended we are the last generation that can do anything about it and are obligated to take action.
Rubio, however, is unwilling to support legislation designed to combat climate change, as he fears it would damage the economy.
As the chart below reveals, Millennials, more than any other generation, agree that the earth is getting warmer, and that it's the fault of humans.
According to a poll from Pew Research Center, 71 percent of Millennials agree we need to find alternative forms of energy. It's evident this generation feels that continuing to rely on fossil fuels is counterintuitive due to their negative impact on the environment.
Rubio, however, would rather save the economy in the short-term, than fight to preserve the planet in the long-term.
In other words, Rubio and Millennials have drastically different opinions on what is arguably the most important issue of our time.
2. Same-sex marriage.
Senator Rubio believes marriage should only occur between a man and woman. Thus, while he says he does not condone discrimination against the LGBT community, he opposes same-sex marriage.
With that said, he argues that states should be able to decide over this issue (which means he's OK with states banning gay marriage).
Millennials, on the other hand, overwhelmingly support same-sex marriage.
According to Pew Research Center, 70 percent of Millennials are in favor of marriage equality.
While Marco Rubio is attempting to present himself as a forward-thinking politician, his views on same-sex marriage more directly coincide with those of fading generations.
Rubio has made his position on pot quite clear, stating:
I don't want my kids to smoke marijuana, and I don't want other people's kids to smoke marijuana. I think there's no responsible way to recreationally use marijuana.
His stance on weed stands in direct opposition to the views of Millennials on this issue (and a majority of Americans for that matter).
Sixty-eight percent of Millennials believe marijuana should be legal. Furthermore, Rubio might want to take note of the fact that a majority of Republican Millennials also support pot legalization.
4. Foreign policy
Marco Rubio favors an aggressive foreign policy in which the US plays an active role across the world. In other words, he's a hawk, and he has stood against President Obama on essentially every single action he's taken in the international arena.
He is not a fan of the Iran nuclear deal, and believes Obama has neglected Israel's safety in this regard. Moreover, he believes the president should have done more to thwart Russia's activities in Ukraine.
In essence, Rubio is a proponent of the kind of unilateral action that characterized the Bush administration.
Millennials, on the other hand, favor diplomacy in lieu of interventionism.
According to Pew Research center, a majority of Millennials (66 percent) fear overwhelmingly relying on military force leads to hatred, violence and terrorism.
It's also notable that Rubio, a Cuban-American, has been very critical of Obama's efforts to rekindle relations with Cuba.
Yet, a recent study from Florida International University revealed 90 percent of Cuban-American Millennials support Obama's approach, and desire to see this relationship mended.
When it comes to foreign affairs, Rubio and America's next generation of leaders and thinkers do not concur.
One area in which there are shades of grey when comparing the positions of Rubio and Millennials is the economy.
In a nutshell, Rubio desires to reduce government regulation while cutting taxes on individuals and corporations. The United States has the highest corporate tax rate in the world, so he may have a point there.
With that said, it's difficult to compare Millennial economics with Rubio's, as their positions on this complicated topic are decidedly convoluted.
As The Atlantic notes, many Millennials favor lowering taxes, yet also desire government services and want it to invest in infrastructure. These are contradictory notions.
In other words, Millennials, as a generation, don't have a clear-cut outlook on economic policy (and may not understand it very well). This isn't that surprising, as this generation is young and still finding its place in the workforce.
Still, it's apparent Rubio and Millennials don't agree on a number of vital issues, regardless of political affiliation.
To Rubio's credit, he has fought hard to address the issue of student loans, which have hit Millennials especially hard (particularly in their wallets). But with 40 million Americans collectively facing $1.2 trillion in student loan debt, every single presidential candidate will have to address this issue.
Simply put, Rubio's vision for America, overall, is not aligned with the politics and outlook of Millennials. Accordingly, they should think very carefully before offering him their support as the presidential race picks up steam.
Citations: Consensus 97 of climate scientists agree (NASA), Obama No greater threat to future than climate change (CNN), The pro gay marriage Republican presidential candidate (Washington Post), Millennial support for gay marriage hits all time high (Huffington Post), We are the last generation that can fight climate change We have a duty to act (The Guardian), The generation gap and the 2012 election (Pew Research Center), Marco Rubio and the Issues (New York Times), Heres what Marco Rubio thinks about the issues (Vox), Why two bipartisan bills to make college affordable are going nowhere in Congress (Vox), Wanted an attorney general committed to the Constitution (Washington Times), Marco Rubio not answering pot question (Politico), Growing Support for Gay Marriage Changed Minds and Changing Demographics (Pew Research Center), 6 facts about marijuana (Pew Research Center), No High Risk Marijuana May be Less Harmful Than Alcohol Tobacco (NBC News), 63 of Republican Millennials favor marijuana legalization (Pew Research Center), The End of American Exceptionalism (National Journal), Morning Plum Marco Rubio pledges to scrap Iran deal regardless of what our Euro allies think (Washington Post), Marco Rubio No Iran Deal Unless the Country Recognizes Israel (Bloomberg), 8 Steps Obama Must Take to Punish Russia (Politico), The Generation Gap on Foreign Policy and National Security Issues (Pew Research Center), 2014 FIU Cuba Poll (Cuban Research Institute), Millennials Political Views Dont Make Any Sense (The Atlantic), Does the US have the highest corporate tax rate in the free world (Politifact), No legalizing medical marijuana doesnt lead to crime according to actual crime stats (Washington Post)