Marco Rubio's gordian knot

From the beginning, Rubio has characterized himself as the candidate of a new generation, ready to move the GOP into the 21st century. But while that might have some resonance against Hillary Clinton, it isn’t necessarily what the Republican electorate wants. Obama succeeded with Democrats by offering hope and change, a faith in the country’s progress and forward movement. But Republican voters are different. As I’ve written elsewhere, current Republican worries about immigration, terrorism, same-sex marriage, and many other issues are essentially all manifestations of one feeling, the sense of being profoundly unsettled by the direction the country and the world is moving. For voters who feel like their country is slipping away from them and slipping out of control, change may be the last thing they want to believe in, unless it’s change that simply turns back the clock to a simpler time…

But the idea that Marco Rubio feels out of place in his country is ridiculous, to friend and foe alike. That was supposed to be his whole appeal, that he was the one who wasn’t out of place in the new America. Young, Hispanic (and bilingual), forward-looking, in touch with today and tomorrow, Rubio was supposed to be the one who would lead the party into a bright future, not sit down in a rocking chair with them to pine for the past.

That’s the conundrum Rubio hasn’t yet solved. In so many ways he’s the perfect candidate for Republicans — or at least the best they’ve got — but he’s exactly wrong for where the Republican electorate is right now.