While I have no interest in Jeb Bush as president… really I think very few people do… he’s absolutely correct on the ideological problem Republicans face.
From The Hill:
“Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush made the case for a more centrist Republican Party on Monday night, saying a nominee should “lose the primary to win the general without violating your principles.”
Bush’s apparent strategy not to try to appeal to the most conservative elements of the party contrasts to some degree with Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign, where some questioned whether he tacked too far to the right in the primary, hurting his ability to get back toward the center for the general election.
Bush laid out policy positions that could be controversial among the conservative base.”
Unfortunately, we have the example of 2012 and Mitt Romney to show us both side of this problem INCREDIBLY clearly.
In order to win in the primaries, you generally have to appeal to strongly motivated partisans, and fundraisers. In order to get their support, you generally have to stake out stronger ideological positions, which appeal to single states or regions, than much of “the center” is comfortable with, on a national basis. The positions that appeal to Floridians, don’t necessarily appeal to Pennsylvanians, or Iowans, or Ohioans.
An aside: Of course, in reality, there is no such thing as a political “center”, or an “independent”. These are polite fictions and rhetorical constructs, adopted by the media, and by people who either don’t understand their own political positions, or are trying to convince people of something (including themselves).
While both major parties have this problem, and prior to the 90s democrats generally suffered from it worse than Republicans; since Bush the elder, the reverse has generally been true.
I think in part it’s because Democrats got smarter, and more cynical… while at the same time, Republicans seemingly got stupider (politically that is)… and also more cynical but in a less politically useful way.
Bush the Elder failed to win reelection, because 40% of the country thought he was too conservative, and 40% of the country thought he was too liberal. When presented with an “alternative” in Ross Perot, whom both liberals and conservatives, and “independents”, were able to project their aspirations on; Bush lost just enough more support than Clinton, that Clinton was able to squeak a plurality victory in.
We repeated the same charade with Romney and Obama in 2012 (and in fact McCain and Obama in 2008).
Obama didn’t win re-election because of increasing or even maintaining democrat and “centrist” support (he actually lost some)… He won reelection because a very large portion of the right decided to stay home rather than vote for Romney, whom they considered a closet liberal.
In 2012, there were honestly millions of people in this country, who opposed Obama and everything he stood for, but somehow convinced themselves that:
“it’s better if Obama stays in power and we fight against him, and the country gets even worse so that everyone will know how bad liberals are, and next time we can get a “REAL CONSERVATIVE”; because if we elect Romney, he’ll be just as bad as Obama, and harder to fight against”.
If you don’t believe that people could be that silly… just ask a hard right “conservative”, or a “tea party” supporter (or for that matter, a liberal who voted for the “green” party, because Obama wasn’t liberal enough).
Meanwhile, the media and the left very effectively painted Romney as a radical right wing nut job… so successfully, that they seemingly actually believed their own BS…
I’m not sure if they just completely ignored the facts that Romney had almost no actual conservative support prior to the general, that his actual stated positions were relatively “moderate”, and that there were YEARS worth of articles, editorials, fox news opinion pieces, and general conservative HATE of Romney…
…Or if somehow they convinced themselves that all that was a psyop against them, to slip manchurian ultraconservative Romney in under their noses?
…’cuz seriously… the Republican party, and conservative media, are not that smart, that competent, or anywhere NEAR that unified and coordinated.
…If they were, they could actually have elected a president.
The Republican primary process has been an absurd clown show the last two electoral cycles.
On what planet, would Michele Bachmann ever be taken seriously as a national candidate? Because it certainly isn’t this one.
How about Mike Huckabee?
Or Rick Santorum?
… And yet, these clowns were able to make a decent enough showing in the primaries to be taken seriously, because they had small but passionate single issue followings, who donated sufficient money to keep their nutjob single issue panderers on the campaign trail.
After 8 years of Obama and the Dems in congress finding new and interesting ways of getting the country to hate them, one would generally assume a Republican presidential LOCK for 2016.
The only way it won’t be, is if they screw up really badly in congress in the next two years (a significant possibility)…
… Or if they end up with another clown show primary process, from which they attempt to pick the least offensive clown as their candidate.