Ricochet is the best place on the internet to discuss the issues of the day, either through commenting on posts or writing your own for our active and dynamic community in a fully moderated environment. In addition, the Ricochet Audio Network offers over 50 original podcasts with new episodes released every day.
I never took Jeb Bush’s campaign seriously because it seemed like such an obviously bad idea: Bush hadn’t been elected to office in nearly a decade, during which time he’d made a name for himself by championing a singularly unpopular education policy (Common Core) and admonishing the party on the one issue it had previously shown itself willing to go into full opposition on (illegal immigration). Moreover, there’s the whole business of his last name, about which… well, I hardly need say more. As many predicted, his lead evaporated upon contact with voters and his $155M war chest earned him not a single delegate. And while I can’t say this with certainty, I’m confident that things wouldn’t have panned out very differently for Bush if Donald Trump hadn’t run (how Trump’s candidacy would have fared without Bush is an interesting question). Republican voters just weren’t hankering for another Bush, let alone Jeb.
Regardless, something convinced a few thousand relatively-wealthy voters to part with an average of $26,600 each in the name of nominating Jeb Bush. This might make sense if Bush had been the only hawkish immigration squish, but there’s also this guy named Marco Rubio and I gather he was available. In short, the donors’ behavior makes no sense to me, either from a principled or a cynical viewpoint. As Megan McArdle put it last week in a postmortem on the primaries:
I have nothing against Bush as a man or a governor. But his decision to run for president in this cycle has to rank as one of the stupidest political bids of all time [… S]omehow, Jeb Bush not only threw his hat in the ring, but also managed to convince Republican donors to come along for the ride. To Bush, I am sympathetic. His brother gets unfair blame for things that are not really his fault, and it can be hard to see yourself, or your family, with the crystal clarity of an outsider. The Republican donors have no such excuse. These folks suddenly and for no apparent reason decided that it would be a great idea to donate a hundred million dollars to the cause of running a completely hopeless establishment candidate. And as soon as it became clear he couldn’t win, they incinerated the remainder of the bundle taking down Rubio, the only candidate who could plausibly unite enough of the party’s factions to stop Trump at the voting booth. When those donors are sitting in their living rooms, wondering how on earth their beloved party has come to this pass, I invite them to get up and take a long look in the nearest mirror.
Can anybody offer a credible explanation as to why this happened? These donors are many things, but they’re generally not stupid.Published in