Bush’s Plan: Thwart Democracy, Buy the Nomination

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A few short months ago, Jeb Bush was in prime position to secure the Republican nomination. He had name recognition, an excellent record of conservative leadership in Florida, and plenty of wealthy donors lining up to contribute to his war chest.

But even before Donald Trump came into the primaries like a bull in a china shop, Bush was struggling to connect with voters. Conservative critics jumped on his pro-Common Core position and his weak stance on illegal immigration. His defensive arguments did him few favors. And there was a prevailing sense that Americans in general had seen just about enough of the Bush family.

Since then, watching Jeb’s campaign has been like watching helium slowly leak from a balloon. His poll numbers have fallen into single-digits, and he’s demonstrated a remarkable aptitude for putting his foot in his mouth. Whether he’s talking about giving blacks free stuff, the Iraq War, or how Americans should be working longer hours, he’s a liability in front of a microphone. This is a guy who is somehow both more offensive and less exciting than Trump. At least when Trump says something outrageous, he sounds like a guy who is just telling it like it is. When Bush does this stuff, it comes off like he slipped and forgot he wasn’t safely ensconced behind the doors of his country club.

Even with all of this, reports say that the Bush camp is still confident. Why? Well, even though some heavy-hitting donors are vowing to defect if Bush’s poll numbers don’t rise, he’s still got a war chest in excess of $100 million. “They are prepared for a long, grinding fight and being the last person standing,” said one fundraiser.

And that might be the most disturbing thing about the Bush campaign. He’s not out there trying to win people over to his unique conservative vision for the country; he’s waging a war of attrition. As long as the money doesn’t run out, he’s good to go. If this primary plays out according to his plan, giving him the nomination simply because everyone else went broke, then something is seriously broken with our democracy.

The media has it backwards. Donald Trump may scare the faint-hearted with his unfiltered take on politics, but Bush is a symbol of what’s really wrong with America today. With John Boehner stepping down as House speaker, conservatives have a chance to truly take the GOP back from the elite. But if Jeb wins the nomination, we’re back to square one. Let’s use 2016 to rock the boat.