Jeb Bush, the Republicans, and 2016
January 2, 2015
Below is an email exchange, continued this day from an earlier exchange, parts of which might have already been posted here. But, as usual, read from the bottom up if you wish to follow this exchange as it unfolded.
Of course, Matthew, what I wrote to P. G., which you are so kind as to send with this email, helps explain why establishment Republicans would be able to support Jeb despite his "relatively liberal stance on key issues." That is, if they think it is beneficial to win back the presidency. They also have little reason to fear a Hillary presidency so it becomes a question for them, "what will it cost us within our own party to support Jeb?" If the price is too high as they see it, unduly feeding the insurgency, they will help to ensure that Jeb doesn't' get the nomination or, if he does, that he loses the election. Illustration: Bob Dole's candidacy in 1996 when many Republicans, looking toward 2000 and perhaps knowing of Clinton's dalliances ["inside the Beltway" is a small town in actuality], did not support his campaign and were not sorry when he lost. They rolled the dice that they could beat Gore and so did not have to support Dole, who was never a favorite of the party's establishment.
As noted, when politics is conceived as a series of "policy problems," and not as a contest over the "alignment of forces" within a particular society, what results is a politics of the status quo. The basic, underlying arrangement of political forces, whether the "liberals" or the "conservatives" are in power, stays essentially the same. This is why some people argue that for all of his rhetoric indicating his "radicalness," that even FDR was essentially in service to the status quo. This may go too far. But I am convinced that LBJ's support of the war in Vietnam served the same purpose, and which is why I am quite open to the argument that he would rather Nixon be president than Humphrey. Behind the opposition to the war was an alternative politics that, if successful, would have changed in basic ways the configuration of political forces in this country. Riots in Chicago at the Democratic convention? Why even those could be made to serve LBJ's purposes. Would Daley's police department help? Why not? It probably wasn't even unpleasant for Daley to see the long hairs beaten to pulps and it served the party's interests. Nixon won, but despite all of this, only barely, illustrating that Johnson's fears for the status quo were not unwarranted. Then, under the guise of pursuing peace, the war continued and even intensified, while Nixon ended the draft, knowing that this would quell much of the opposition to the war. And, of course, he was smart enough to rely on bombing, not troops, to pursue the war and intensify it. Many dying, you say? Hey, come on, we are all "realists" here and we know you cannot make mayonnaise - or preserve the status quo - without breaking some eggs. As many like to say, "Freedom isn't free!" Nor is preserving the status quo!!
As Karp argued, it is one of the myths of our political system that both parties want to win each and every election, regardless of how a win would impact the power of prevailing and prevalent politicians. [Ask yourself why the Republican Party in Massachusetts could find candidates that could win the governorship but, allegedly, could not find candidates, Scott Brown the exception that proves the rule, who could win in the legislature or in Congress. Perhaps it is because the party did want to pay the price it would have to pay to win those seats.] Once one sees this possibility, everything or an awful lot changes in how we assess the actions of politicians. And, of course, it is quite interesting how little attention is paid to a politics of the status quo, despite the fact that preserving the status quo is one of the most common political phenomenons. It is as if we want to believe that our politicians are all seeking, not so much getting and/or maintaining power, but are all seeking to undertake basic changes whatever the impact of these changes on their status. And, of course, in a political order that revolves around "professional politicians," this status is not something to be sneezed at, which is an argument for term limits.
On Jan 2, 2015, at 7:07 AM, MB wrote:
"However problematic any of his business interests could potentially be, it is Mr Bush’s relatively liberal stance on key issues such as immigration reform, gay marriage and 'common core' national education standards that may make it harder to win the Republican nomination" (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/11320989/Jeb-Bush-clears-decks-for-presidential-run.html).
On Fri, Oct 24, 2014 at 11:50 PM, Peter Schultz wrote:
As George Carlin said once: "What's all this stuff about "same sex marriage? My wife and I have been the same sex ever since and even before we were married. I don't get it."
On Oct 24, 2014, at 11:05 AM, MB wrote:
"The issue was same-sex marriage. The day before, Bush in his State of the Union address had defended 'the sanctity of marriage,' which was code for opposing legally sanctioned marriage between gay couples. In an election year, it was an obvious appeal to Bush's conservative base, a way of reminding them that whatever their misgivings about his other policies, this was a president in tune with their social views" (Baker 304).
Apparently you have not understood what I wrote: I said that "raising issues" is a peculiar kind of politics, an elitist and disempowering kind of politics that human beings who are not awed by their own intellectualism and the alleged intelligence of "experts" and "analysts" reject.....and with very good reasons, as these "experts" and "analysts" have failed time and time again. You write back and reassert that we need to talk about "the issues I raised." No, I don't and won't because were I to do that I would be conceding the argument to you and, worse, conceding the worth of the conventional wisdom which you are content to embrace in your "issues" brand of politics.
On MSNBC the other day, Andrea Mitchell was interviewing the woman running for governor in Texas, Wendy Davis, I think, about an ad she had run featuring an empty wheelchair that pointed out how her opponent had consistently favored as a judge the wealthy over the not wealthy in law suits for damages for personal injuries against corporations, and this after he had himself collected millions in a similar case - hence, the empty wheelchair. Mitchell had her panties all in a bunch over the empty wheelchair -"Oh, how insensitive!" - and then asked Wendy Davis whether this issue was more important than the issue of access to abortions in Texas. I yelled at the radio: "It's the same fucking 'issue,' you dumb ass!" I am sorry to say that while Davis made the same point, she was too polite in her response for my tastes.
This is what happens when you adopt an "issues" brand of politics. Abortion, and, yes, even climate change, ebola containment, and even economics get severed from the social and human context in which they occur as if they were isolated phenomena the resolution of which have no implications for the power relationships in our society. In fact, this is one reason why an "issues" brand of politics is popular: Because it allows us to ignore the very real power "imbalances" that exist in our society and, thereby, perpetuates the status quo. The Progressives embraced such a politics - as an alternative to what was then called, appropriately, "populism" - because it would ensure their right to govern, to rule over its all-too-many and all-too-unsavory immigrants "flooding" the nation then and supporting those unsavory city machines.
So, no, my argument is not "largely irrelevant for the issues [you] raised." You just have to try to understand that your brand of politics is peculiar, why it is peculiar, and why it is little more than a front for preserving the status quo. Or to simplify: If you say "A" and I say "B", you shouldn't say "A" again. It doesn't get us anywhere.