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Rubio: The Left is 'Allergic' to Law and Order

State of the Union: In a recent piece for Compact, Sen. Marco Rubio explains the American right’s interest in President Nayib Bukele, whom he visited recently in El Salvador.

Bukele and Rubio
(Photos courtesy of Senator Rubio’s office)

Last week, I wrote about Sen. Marco Rubio’s recent trip to El Salvador to meet with President Nayib Bukele, which liberal outlets have cast as the right’s “new favorite autocrat.”

While their description of Bukele’s rule is laughable, it’s true that Bukele is finding more support among the American right in the last year of his first presidential term. My piece outlined precisely what’s behind the increased interest in Bukele on the American right: his crackdown on gang and cartel created disorder. For all the recent attention he’s received from American conservatives, Bukele has received way more adoration from his nation’s people, who overwhelmingly approve of his leadership.


Rubio had some words of his own in Compact, an outlet run by The American Conservative contributing editors Matthew Schmitz and Sohrab Ahmari, on Monday about his trip to San Salvador.

In “Bukele Has Brought Freedom to El Salvador,” Rubio also outlines what has made Bukele so popular and interesting. “For decades, the Central-American nation was little more than a playground for ruthless gangs. ‘See, hear, and shut up’—the gangs’ menacing message to ordinary people—took the place of law and order. Public shootouts were commonplace. And anyone who resisted extortion was brutally murdered. I recently met parents who told me their son was killed for their refusal to pay protection money. This was the daily reality that millions of Salvadorans faced—until President Nayib Bukele cracked down hard against the criminal element,” the Florida senator writes.

“It’s hard to overstate how much things have improved” since Bukele’s crackdown, Rubio adds. “Children play on soccer fields that were once whizzing with bullets. Families go out at night without fear of being murdered and mutilated. Businesses sell their wares, no protection money required. In short, people are free and flourishing.”

Rubio’s description of El Salvador’s previous problems, which still exist but are now greatly diminished, and Bukele’s program to solve them are worth reading. But the most interesting point Rubio makes in his Compact piece is about the left’s reaction to Bukele’s efforts.

The Florida senator diagnoses the left with an allergy to order. In fact, Rubio writes, “the left is so allergic to law enforcement that it would rather see Barrio 18 and MS-13 roaming the streets than criminals locked up. Nothing else explains our open southern border or the process by which major American cities that were once the pride and joy of this country—San Francisco, Chicago, New York—became drug-infested warzones.”

This is exactly right. The American interest in Bukele isn’t just that Bukele is one of the only leaders south of the U.S.-Mexico border that appears serious about combating the problems that have made their way north to the United States and made an impact far beyond border towns. The American right’s newfound interest in Bukele comes at a time where disorder appears pervasive throughout the states. Liberals, particularly urban liberals, seem to have embraced living amidst feces and felonies, garbage and gun violence, homelessness and homicide. How else to describe Chicago’s decision to replace Mayor Lori Lightfoot with Chicago Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson, who warned against “demonizing” roving hordes of teens on Monday after they violently rampaged throughout downtown Chicago all weekend?

Bukele, and the Salvadorans who support him, know that this is no way to live. In fact, it's impossible to be free in such an environment. That much Bukele and the American right have in common.