The campaign Rubio is contemplating will be explicitly generational in its argument. His driving theme is that American government is failing to adapt to the new reality of globalization and digital life not because we can’t compete, but because an older generation of leaders keeps trotting out the last century’s policies and institutions to deal with it.

When it comes to higher education or the tax code or immigration or net neutrality, Rubio, who would be the first nominee in either party born after 1970, sees an aging political class that continually reaches back for outdated answers, rather than modernizing the system.

Obama, of course, echoed some of this same theme in 2008, in his less confrontational way. But Rubio argues that while Obama “understood the broad parameters” of that transformation, his only solution has been to propose more government programs of the kind that worked in decades past.