The Republicans are closing ranks. If establishment Republicans have their way, Jeb Bush is going to be the 2016 nominee. The establishment’s official publication, The Wall Street Journal, all but announced it today with a front page article “Bush’s Ties to Donors Put Rivals in a Bind.” The prodigious Bush fundraising machine, established by George H.W. and expanded and honed by George W., is cranking up for Jeb, to the dismay of potential contenders, especially Marco Rubio, who had hoped to work the Florida territory that former governor Bush already owns.
Like his father and brother, Jeb is “safe.” He will mumble something about reducing the size, scope, and power of the federal government, but other than a few possible cuts that will hurt Democratic constituencies, the blob will keep growing. Jeb is not going to challenge the welfare state, and he will actively support the warfare/intelligence state. He will promise bigger defense budgets, more foreign interventions, and more domestic surveillance. Count on him to keep those commitments if elected. His support of common core and immigration reform will rub some Republicans and Republican-leaning tea partiers the wrong way, but the establishment figures they can go vote for Rand Paul in the primaries; they’ll come back to Jeb in the general election if the alternative is Hillary.
They may be right, and Jeb might win. Other than which campaign contributors get paid off, there would be very little difference between the potential presidencies of Jeb and Hillary. Commentators and opinion organs masquerading as news outlets will champion their guy or gal, and hyperventilate about perceived sins of the other side’s gal or guy, but when you get right down to actual policies, there has been little difference between Republicans and Democrats for many years; they are both the parties of government. It gets bigger, spends more, piles new programs on top of failed old ones, sticks its nose anywhere on the planet it sees fit, makes more promises, and goes deeper in debt. None of that is going to change—Jeb or Hillary—and the permanent Washington oligarchy and its dependents are fine with either one.
For those of us who long ago turned away from mainstream politics in disgust, this is profoundly depressing. History’s great experiment in self-governance, the United States’ republic, has been swallowed by the blob. It is ostensibly run by elected officials who have no exceptional qualities of any kind, who are almost comically platitudinous and banal, but who know how to press the right voter and donor buttons to amass the funding and votes necessary to carry a plurality of those who bother to vote. The mathematics of compounding interest on ever-expanding debt guarantee that things won’t continue on their present course. However, maybe they don’t come to a dramatic end, maybe it’s more like a slow leak until one day the tire has gone flat. The prospect of a Jeb-Hillary election should put the body politic in the same frame of mind as a restless teenager, ready to do something rash, dangerous, and destructive, just to relieve the tedium. That, unfortunately, is giving the body politic far too much credit.
THERE WAS A TIME WHEN AMERICANS, NOT THE GOVERNMENT, RAN THEIR OWN LIVES.