Well, as many quietly predicted, Jeb! Bush has just suspended his campaign after coming in, at absolute best (since the vote counting is still in its early stages) in 4th place in South Carolina.
I personally won’t miss him, but hey, as the Bush Dynasty goes, at least Jeb! hadn’t gotten us entangled us in all sorts of quagmires, war wise. In other words, the red-hot hate I hold for his older brother, and sneering disrespect I hold for his father, just aren’t there for me where Jeb! is concerned. The fact that he was as interesting as watching paint dry as a candidate is what did him in, and he has nobody to blame for that but himself (well, mostly—this is clearly a year in which *any* establishment candidate, Democrat or Republican, is being tolerated at best and rejected outright at worst.)
But, as much as I won’t miss Jeb! any more than most folks will, I still am given real pause by his departure at this comparatively early point in campaign season—especially looking at what happened in Nevada, and is happening now in South Carolina.
IMO, although many knew this Jeb! departure was coming, our party should be getting very concerned about the general election. Why? Because almost all of Jeb’s money and especially votes are likely to go to Rubio. (Kasich might get some, but I don’t think he will get much.) That will, if SC’s numbers hold and become a portend of Super Tuesday, take Rubio well past (and ultimately eliminate) Ted Cruz—whose own mother probably thinks he’s a pain in the ass and who cannot get any votes from rational folks, even rational evangelicals (and yes, there are plenty of those.) There is no doubt in mind that between Trump and Rubio, the Republican Party will ultimately nominate Rubio.
Establishment machines don’t know how to do anything different. Their (Republican) side is no different than ours, in that. (Except for the one difference that prompted this diary and which I discuss below.)
Yet Rubio is a very serious problem if he gets the nod for the Democratic nominee, no matter which of our two choices gets the nomination. All dubiously-entertaining factional warfare taking place here at Daily Kos between Sanders supporters and Clinton supporters, Jeb dropping out before Super Tuesday is not really good news for our side. And we need to start recognizing that we have a real problem this election cycle.
Their side is fired up, if turnout numbers are indicative of it. Ours is not—and claiming that Bernie is bringing in new folks (which is true) is not enough—because he’s not managing to keep the folks who already were in the party engaged. Indeed, too many of those advocating for Sanders have already said they don’t care what happens if Bernie doesn’t win the nomination—they won’t support Clinton.
What we’ve seen is Rubio (a man who can barely get a sentence out our his mouth without a script, who short-circuits back to that script when he is under stress, and who sweats like Ted Hayes in Airplane! when he’s asked to be front and center all alone) triumphantly on stage holding hands with Nikki Haley (with the endorsement of Ted Scott) saying that his is the face of the future of the Republican Party for coming in either second or third.
Now, folks here at Daily Kos, many of who I adore even when I think they are behaving terribly in terms of advocacy for their chosen primary candidate, might say: so what? Rubio is still a Republican and most Americans still support Democratic leaning policies. No problem. Who cares?
Here’s why I am given pause: Rubio’s claim of being the “future of the Republican Party” is being made tonight by two non-white folks (one Latino and one Southeast Asian, endorsed by a Black person) who nonetheless look white, and have each separately made clear that they are more than happy to largely jettison their ethnic and racial identities and become white in service to politics and especially the right-wing “I got mine, get yours” ideology espoused by the Republican Party, without the obvious self-hatred of the Bobby Jindal’s of the world. Who also have youth on their side, since (for example) Rubio and Haley added together are only 88 years old, compared to Clinton’s nearly 70 years and Bernie’s 74 years on this earth all by themselves.
[Some folks even consider them “attractive”. I don’t — but I know folks who do. I also know that whether we like it or not “attractive” gets votes in this country.]
You don’t think that would sell to the majority of the American electorate? Especially that part of the electorate who hates President Obama’s Blackness with a passion and yet knows that Republicans simply cannot embrace their white supremacy as right and just to the same degree as in the past unless they want to become permanently irrelevant where the top of the ticket is concerned? Think again.
The Jeb! campaign was boring as hell. He’d have likely been a craptastic president, and I actually felt sorry for him because it was clear his heart wasn’t in it. But compared to everyone else running on his side of the political aisle, it was comparatively rational, especially when it comes to certain things (like immigration policy) we say we care about as a party.
So folks, even as you dance on Jeb!’s political corpse tonight, please ask yourself this: what does Jeb! no longer being in the race this early mean for our candidates? Has it really helped us, particularly with Rubio in the race and getting stronger by the day? Has it perhaps cost us? And, most important what do we need to do if the latter is true?
Please, please please don’t waste time repeating what has become the end-all and be-all of discussion here at Daily Kos for the past few months. Please don’t just parrot how great Bernie is so we should all rally behind him and his political revolution—I already know that, since he’s my candidate in the primaries, yet the reality is that the Republicans have not even begun to be nasty where Bernie Sanders’ democratic socialism is concerned (and if there is anyone that can carry that nasty, it is Marco Rubio—since you only need a script for it.) Please don’t come in and parrot about how qualified Hillary is and how strong her Black voter firewall is—I already know that too, since to myth we have proven since 2008 that we will show up even if President Obama isn’t on the ticket--unless you can show me how it matters one whit in the *general* if she has to run against Rubio.
Oh, and please don’t waste my time with the Quinnipiac poll. I’ve seen it. It’s too early to mean much. And I say that as someone who is (since it bears repeating around here) a Sanders’ supporter.
What I’ve been seeing in these early caucus/primary states tells me (as it did in 2010 and 2014, when I along with a few other key voices here were telling people that the Democratic Party had a lot to be worried about, only to be somewhat pooh-poohed) that the departure of the Jeb!s of the world from the campaign this early is not good for us if it leaves behind a Republican who can win the general too early in the cycle. It behooves us to start thinking about this in earnest now: What are we going to do as a party to put ourselves in the best position to take on what is IMO could well be a Marco Rubio/Nikki Haley ticket? Besides pom-pom waving for our chosen Democratic gladiator and threatening to take our ball home if he or she does not win right up until the very last moment?
All IMHO and YMMV, as always.