I’ve been digesting a few post-mortems of yesterday’s election results, seasoned with the piquant obituaries of John Ellis Bush. There are lessons in both that most observers will want to assiduously ignore.
On the democratic Nevada primary, our English Christian forefathers were pleased to peer up from eternal repose to witness a corrupt lesbian defeat a menshavik jew on the votes of amerind squatters. It’s a republic, if you can keep it.
Though more interesting, and less morbid, were the republican results from South Carolina. It is a state that–with acknowledgement of my warm fondness–typically offers an open-legged reception to establishment figures. Figures that include such exotic panjandrums as an Indian Sikh governor and two senators, one African-in-American, and the other a strangelovian homosexual. All rock solid republicans, naturally. And all extremely skeptical about white constituents coveting their own interests. After all, what does it profit a man to spare his country if it spoils conservative values?
And this open spoiling is what has so flummoxed the party and press. As a not-true-conservative Trump flounced into the state and proceeded to make piñatas out of practically every revered republican totem. This piece, at the customarily goggle-eyed Huffington Post, describes the divergence quite well:
Trump’s resounding victory isn’t simply a boon to his prospects for winning the Republican presidential nomination, an outcome once thought impossible that is looking increasingly more plausible. It is also an embarrassing repudiation of conservative orthodoxy that has dominated Republican politics for decades. It suggests that the party’s intellectual leaders, who organized the base around the National Review/Weekly Standard consensus — small government, free trade, pro-Israel, deregulation, low taxes, social conservatism and an aggressive foreign policy — have been generals of a phantom army.
The troops, instead, are marching with Trump, who bested his rivals in South Carolina by campaigning against nearly everything the Bush family, the Republican Party and neoconservatives who supported military interventions advocated for. Among his many breaks with the elite consensus, Trump declared that former President George W. Bush had lied about weapons of mass destruction to march the country to war; blamed Bush for the 9/11 attacks, arguing that he ignored intelligence community warnings; defended Planned Parenthood; boasted that he was the only Republican who would not cut Social Security or Medicare; said he approved of the individual mandate in Obamacare; and promised to slap onerous tariffs on companies who outsource jobs.
And where Washington and New York-based GOP leaders pledge outreach to immigrants, moderate Muslims and other minorities, the reality TV star plays more overt racial politics than any national candidate since George Wallace. Trump’s brand of nativist, nationalist isolationism marked the path to victory. Rival candidate Jeb Bush is a dead man.
This unusually lucid article concludes with a comic disclaimer.
Editor’s Note: Donald Trump is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist, birther and bully who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.
Well all right then. But he’s not only a cafeteria bigot, Trump also called the state’s official gimp “one of the dumbest human beings I’ve ever seen.” Though in perhaps the most egregious affront to party orthodoxy, he also pledged to remain neutral in the interminable Israeli-Arab conflict. And we know who else once pledged neutrality! The point being, American executives either serve Israel or they serve lampshades. This isn’t ground for moral ambiguity.
The cumulative effect of these apostasies should have buried Donald deep in the southern silt according to professional campaign mongers. Yet he won with authority. As typical, a Rorschach pattern of plausible theories blossomed in the aftermath. Anger, angst, and general purpose Hate being the most commonly summoned explanations. Those are all elements (certainly you’ll hear no denial from this hate advocate), but the most accurate description persistently eludes those paid to capture it.
That is rather than mindlessly jettisoning the impermissible, voters are making millions of personal triage decisions, and arriving at similar conclusions. Dismissing candidates that benefit your welfare due to some particularist heresy is the luxury of a comfortable people. It’s like walking into an empty emergency room with impacted ear wax. Your trifle is given grave consideration. But in times of conflict or want, people begin to prioritize.
That’s what formerly staunch republican reservationists are now doing. Some like everything Trump says, some may like very little, and some couldn’t care less. A political triage is being calculated, and a great many are prioritizing having jobs and not being invaded over sniffles about etiquette. I don’t know if Martel completely “shared the values” of most Franks. But I’ll wager the sight of massed Saracen cavalry lessened the question’s urgency.
As for Bush, his many deficiencies are now being catalogued as if they were apparent from the outset. And most were. The Bush brand had been tarnished to black by his bumbling brother. And Jeb was pedantic and peevish in presenting the party’s stale neocon platform. A platform increasingly burdened by its dearth of any natural constituency. How many actual neocolytes are in America anyway? I doubt Bill Kristol wants to devote much effort to learning that.
And while Bush carried the baggage of his pedigree along with obvious charismatic deficiencies, he did enjoy the ultimate equalizer: money. Enough that he could dam the Rio Grande with $100s allowing even more migratory expressions of love. And as it turned out that may have been funds better spent from his perspective.
For money proved insufficient, the fact of which highlights a couple of dismal strategies. The first of these is the fetishizing of process over result. The Constitutional Ghost Shirters represent its personification with the tacit belief that following a raft of procedural guidelines necessarily results in a pleasant country. Bush wholly embraced an election process: raise money, accumulate endorsements, master political patter, and project an optimistic and dignified presidential demeanor. That’s established process. That it might not trump an increasingly reviled platform didn’t seem to occur to him. The people may not want invade/invite/outsource, but I presented it as a positive future for America with prestigious endorsements and robust financial backing: what the hell?
The second, and related, failure is one common across the relationship spectrum. That is offering the courted party your desires projected onto them rather than their own. Like a husband who gives his wife a birthday present of fellatio coupons redeemable for performance anytime she likes. See, that’s a helluva guy. And in his neocon policy prescriptions, Jeb Bush was a helluva guy too. The lessons for the GOP are that more people are beginning to take an interest in results rather than process, and you might want to consider accommodating their needs aside from merely your own.
Or just keep offering a positive vision of favelized America. And toss in a few birthday coupons with the deal.