In 1980, as a nine-year-old boy growing up in Grand Prairie, Texas, I had only a rudimentary understanding of the world around me. I knew that my dad, a produce manager, and my mom, a young secretary, were working very hard to give my sister and me everything we needed to do well in school and to reach our full potential. But I also saw how difficult it was for them to make ends meet, to save a little for a rainy day or to have enough to maybe go on a family trip someday. I knew that we had to wait in line to buy gasoline, that my school would run "bomb" drills and that mom and dad watched the news every night with furrows of concern on their brows about the world around us and the future of our country.
Later that year, mostly by osmosis, I began to catch glimmers of a man on television who seemed to have a new, and much different, vision for America. He spoke in a way that was inspirational, positive, affirming and comforting. He spoke about the greatness of our country and our ideals and about how America was the world's "Shining City on the Hill." That man was Ronald Reagan and he forever changed how I view public service, politics, the United States, and who we are as a people.
As an elected official, I am blessed to have the opportunity to speak to many families just like mine. And what I hear over and over again is that they are struggling, that they have lost faith in the American Dream, that they are concerned about the future of their children and our country. In so many ways, my family and the families that I represent are much like that family so many years ago in Grand Prairie. The America that we grew up with is not the America that we see today. We inherently understand that without real and material change, we are destined for decline.
As the presidential pageant continues, we are presented with myriad options. Some are angry. Others are calm. Some are low energy. Others are highly unorthodox. But there is one candidate who transcends.
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio has shown time and again during this contest that he is the best-prepared person to lead a post-Obama United States.
Sen. Rubio's ability to articulate his vision for the country with specificity and clarity is unparalleled in this race. While he is young (though Presidents John F. Kennedy and Theodore Roosevelt were both younger than Sen. Rubio when they were inaugurated), he has served as the speaker of the house of the Florida Legislature, a capable and effective U.S. senator and one of the brightest and most knowledgeable members of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.
Pundits and journalists of all political stripes have concluded that Sen. Rubio is the most electable Republican and holds the greatest chance to defeat the Democratic nominee, whoever that may be. His favorability rankings are the highest of any other Republican candidate, and based on polling to this point, Sen. Rubio is the only candidate that can actually expand the GOP's reach among millennials, people of color and women.
Most importantly for me, however, is how the senator connects. As he himself says, his quintessential American story is only extraordinary because of its ordinariness. His story is the story of our country, of the middle class, of everyone who has ever lived paycheck to paycheck, of everyone who has had a mom or dad that worked deep into the night or early into the morning to make a better life for their children.
I am voting for Sen. Marco Rubio because to me, he embodies my American experience and the experience of so many other millions of Americans. This election is not about anger, or tearing down the establishment, or fear. It is about inspiration, and strength, and the future. It's about building a New American Century right here in 2016.