In my new novel, True Identity, I portray the fictional President Sandoval as a leader that passionately defends human rights and the protection of minority groups around the world. He is motivated by personal experience, as the son of Cuban immigrants who escaped the tyranny of the Castro regime and taught him that America was the defender of freedom and the refuge of the world’s persecuted. Sound familiar? It should, for the character of President Ramon Sandoval is inspired by U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, one of several Republican candidates for President of the United States.
I started researching and writing my novel about three years ago, long before anyone had declared their intentions to run for president. In fact, many felt that Rubio was not likely to run if his political mentor, Jeb Bush, announced himself. So, my choice of Rubio as a model was not based upon any insight, or foreknowledge that he would declare his candidacy. Rather, President Sandoval’s foreign policy goals reflect many of my personal positions, and the principles that I believe should guide America’s interactions worldwide. But, I needed to flesh out the character, to fill in his back story. So, I looked for a leader whom I felt shared these values and had spoken out on these issues publicly. I quickly determined that Rubio was that person.
As a resident of Florida, I first became aware of Marco Rubio when he declared his intentions to run for U.S. Senate against then sitting governor, Charlie Crist. Polls showed him way down and few gave him any chance of winning. But he persisted, strong in his belief that American policies should defend individual liberty both at home and abroad. He began by taking his message door to door in his neighborhood and it resonated, quickly spreading across Florida and then our nation. Do his views reflect those of my fictional President Ramon Sandoval? In writing, all characters evolve with the story. So, let’s look at some of the statements of both Rubio and Sandoval and compare.
Rubio recently revealed his “Rubio Doctrine,” introducing it with words from the final speech of President John F. Kennedy…
“I am confident, as I look to the future, that our chances for security, our chances for peace, are better than they have been in the past. And the reason is because we are stronger. And with that strength is a determination to not only maintain the peace, but also the vital interests of the United States. To that great cause, Texas and the United States are committed.”
Rubio then explained that President Kennedy understood that “American strength is a means of preventing war, not promoting it.”
He further stated that “Since the end of the Cold War, the threats facing America have changed, but the need for American strength has not. It has only grown more pressing as the world has grown more interconnected… Today, as never before, foreign policy is domestic policy.”
Here are some excerpts from his speech:
“The free nations of the world still look to America to champion our shared values. Vulnerable nations still depend on us to deter aggression from larger neighbors. Oppressed peoples still turn their eyes toward our shores, wondering if we hear their cries, wondering if we notice their afflictions.”
“In recent years, the ideals that have long formed the backbone of American foreign policy- a passionate defense of human rights, the strong support of democratic principles, and the protection of the sovereignty of our allies- have been replaced by, at best, caution, and at worst, outright willingness to betray those values for the expediency of negotiations with repressive regimes.
This is not only morally wrong; it is contrary to our interests. Because wherever freedom and human rights spread, partners for our nation are born. But whenever our foreign policy come unhinged from its moral purpose, it weakens global stability and forms cracks in our national resolve.”
“As president, I will support the spread of economic and political freedom, reinforce our alliances, resist efforts by large powers to subjugate their smaller neighbors, maintain a robust commitment to transparent and effective foreign assistance programs, and advance the rights of the vulnerable- including women and religious minorities that are so often persecuted, so that the afflicted peoples of the world know the truth: the American people hear their cries, see their suffering, and most of all, desire their freedom.”
Similarly, in a major policy announcement in Erbil, Iraq, my fictional president, Ramon Sandoval said the following:
“Ours was a revolution that was meant to be exported throughout the world until all humanity was free. Unfortunately, we have not always lived according to these ideals. For over sixty years, America’s policy in the Middle East has been based not on the spread of liberty, but rather in the context of larger threats, such as the Cold War and now the War on Terror.”
“Under my administration, this will change, as the United States again pursues a foreign policy that is based upon our founding principles.”
“So far, world leaders have stood silent, but this president will call out the Iranian regime for these atrocities and will materially and morally support all who seek freedom in this land where the first human rights charter was drafted.”
Many people consider Marco Rubio a rising star in the Republican Party. As a young Hispanic, he represents the next generation and a new face for the GOP. He’s eloquent, thoughtful and solution-oriented. He reached across the political aisle in an effort to find concensus on immigration reform, even though many in his party opposed it, because he believed it was the moral and responsible thing to do for America. He has since stated that his collaboration with Democrats was a mistake as, being a freshman Senator, he didn’t understand that partisan politics would interfere with solving the problem.
For me, what sets Rubio apart from other politicians and presidential candidates is his sincere and staunch advocacy of democracy, human rights and individual liberties. This same willingness to speak out against persecution and political repression is what attracted me to President Ronald Reagan in the 1980’s. And it is what makes Marco Rubio appealing to me today. Will Rubio be America’s next president? I don’t know, but I truly hope so. The United States and the world would benefit from his strong principles and leadership.
Samuel Griswold is the author of the new historical thriller, True Identity, about a Mossad agent who develops amnesia and starts receiving past life visions while working undercover in Iraqi Kurdistan. Check it out on Amazon! He’s also the publisher of JewishPrism.com.