Today is the New Hampshire primary. Before Marco Rubio’s robotic debate performance, he was expected to do well in New Hampshire, thanks to the perception that he is one of the more “moderate” candidates.
As John Favreau points out in some interesting observations about Rubio in the Daily Beast, that perception is erroneous.
It’s silly to pretend otherwise: As a Democrat, I’d rather run against Ted Cruz than Marco Rubio.
But that’s like saying I’d rather run against herpes than Marco Rubio. Of course I would. I don’t care that Ted Cruz may be smart and strategic. He’s also creepy and cruel, according to just about everyone who’s ever had the misfortune of knowing him for longer than 10 minutes.
Favreau notes the reasons that most Americans–at least, those who haven’t paid close attention to the train wreck which has been the Republican Presidential primary season–consider Rubio the candidate who could give Hillary (or Bernie) a genuine run for the office. He lists Rubio’s “positives,” including his youth, an appealing personal story and, given his background, a possible/theoretical appeal to Latino voters.
Mostly, however, pundits attribute Rubio’s greater “electability” to a widespread perception that he falls into the “moderate” category. But as Favreau points out, that’s sort of like saying that next to Hitler, Mussolini was a moderate.
Because Trump and Cruz have moved the goalposts on what it means to be bat-shit crazy in a primary, the press will confuse Rubio’s moderate temperament with moderate policies, of which he has none. Rubio was once described as the “crown prince” of the Tea Party. He has a 100 percent rating from the NRA. He’ll appoint justices who will overturn the Supreme Court’s gay marriage decision. He opposes abortion with no exception for rape or incest. He opposes stem cell research and doesn’t believe in climate change. He’d send ground troops to Syria and trillions in tax cuts to the rich.
It is extremely unlikely that anyone championing those policies can be elected President. Voter ID laws and SuperPacs can only do so much. Gerrymandering can insure control of the House of Representatives, but not the Presidency.
How has the party of Eisenhower, Nixon (who despite his flaws understood governance and foreign policy) and even Reagan (who would be far too liberal for the current party base) come to this? And what will the outcome be?
The real problem for all of us— Democrats, Independents and those rational Republicans who haven’t yet thrown in the towel— is that the implosion of a once-responsible, genuinely conservative political party is a body blow to effective government. This country desperately needs adult conversations, thoughtful consideration of different policy approaches to the actual, real-world problems we face and a nuanced understanding of the systems within which those problems must be addressed.
These people want to be important. They want to rule; they don’t want to govern.