With the theme from The Benny Hill Show, “Yakkity Sax”, playing over the past Republican debates smoother than Dark Side of the Moon did to The Wizard of Oz, in this election, either you create the spectacle or the spectacle becomes you.
The latest dropout, Bush the III, never quite grasped that. Better and more informed works will be written on the colossal failure that was the Jeb Bush campaign of 2016, but I think it is utterly fascinating the level of ineptitude achieved at every possible facet of his run. He insisted on tone-deafness throughout, claiming with a shrug that “stuff happens” after an Oregon school shooting, and that there should be a Christian “litmus test” in regards to which refugees we allow to escape wholesale genocide, among other gems. After consecutive middling debate performances, no amount of money could right his ship; and they threw a lot of it at him. In Iowa, where he finished an embarrassing sixth, he paid 2,800 per vote after all the expenses were tallied. He fared little better in New Hampshire, barely edging out Rubio for fourth, at 1,150 per vote. He ended it all shortly after one last sad pander on Twitter where he posted a photo of a handgun with the engraving “Gov. Jeb Bush”. On the post read the caption, “America.”
Abandon all hope, ye who enter, indeed. It is a sad indictment of the country, the GOP party, and the desperation of a campaign in a terminal tailspin. That after failing to succeed by championing his much-touted “proven leadership”, this self-branded policy wonk would debase what little self-respect he had left and wallow with the rest of the mouth-breathing Trump loyalists speaks to the end times of the Republican party, at least as we have come to know it in recent history.
Until one of the other candidates can make him sweat for at least two hours one on one in a debate tailored for actual policy discussion he will untouchable. With Jeb being too proud to bow out earlier, Ben Carson appearing at times to have forgotten he is still running, and Kasich circling the drain until someone takes him home at last call for a Vice Presidential pick, the field is spread far too wide for any critical focus to hold steady on Trump’s many shortcomings. And even that premise is built upon the very shaky ground that any of them are competent debaters- the remaining field has proven that they are not. There is a limit to the amount primaries Marco Rubio can continually lose while pretending to claim victory. This “win from behind” strategy is the same doomed theorem that Jeb employed to ease his ego from the glaring truth staring them all in the face.
Even Trump seems to be pivoting towards a General Election tone. Recently, he has spoken anathema to the Republican base claiming, “Planned Parenthood does some wonderful things” and that “He is not going to let people die on the streets” with no healthcare, and vowing to invest big money in woman’s health issues. We all know the man says what people want to hear, but he is a showman, and showmen cater to their audiences. They are addicted to approval and validation. If that same audience’s attention is contingent upon an increasingly broader progressive palate then Candidate Trump might possibly be more amenable for compromise than his rivals. He might also bomb Wyoming one day for looking at him the wrong way. So yeah, that’s a gamble.
With Nevada providing a conclusive win for former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, it is Senator Bernie Sanders who is now feeling, if not the Bern, than at least the heat. Nevada was supposed to provide a solid toehold for the Sanders campaign leading into Super Tuesday where he is expected to lose the plurality of states voting that day. He’ll take his home state of Vermont that day. While Massachusetts is currently tilting his way and Colorado and Minnesota are up for grabs, he will most likely lose by a wide margin in Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Georgia, Virginia, and Alabama to Clinton. Some are attributing this to a late start visiting Southern states where Clinton has held a near-familial relationship for decades. Despite the impressive strides the Sanders campaign has made to be seen standing near people of color during televised rallies it has yet to convince the majority of black voters that his investment in their concerns is anything more that strategic.
I don’t question the integrity of the man, in fact, as far as politicians go, I respect him more than most. It is, however, hard for me not to be cynical of a campaign that now features Eric Garner’s daughter in a commercial and only begins speaking specifically on racial inequality after Black Lives Matter activists held his feet to the fire and only after it was clear that the African American demographic was going to be the one holdout keeping him from the nomination. To his credit, Clinton’s recent revitalized social policies are drifting ever more to the left thanks directly to the sharp focus Sanders has put upon her. Speaking of cynical, her eye-roll inducing line, “no bank too big to fail, no CEO to rich to jail” owes its creation solely to Sanders’s constant criticism to her ties to the Big Banking. Wall Street is not a topic she broaches of her own volition.
Sanders speaks more to the concerns of the democratic voters, than the Democratic Establishment. With his groundswell of support, the Democratic Party must recalibrate around the parameters of its newest lodestone. The same is happening in a much more graphic manner in the Republican Party thanks to Trump’s theatric demagoguery. In this manner, come what may in November, both Trump and Sanders are the effective standard bearers of their parties. This, from two men who weren’t even members of their respective parties a year ago!