If you don’t count George W. Bush’s presidency, and I don’t, by 2016 it will have been 28 years since the American electorate was willing to trust the Republicans with the presidency. That’s a very long drought, and the GOP has been incapable of figuring out how to end it.
“W’s” presidency doesn’t count because of how he was elected, and, much more importantly, because of how he governed after taking office. Bush lost the popular vote in 2000 by more than a half million votes. The electoral vote came down to Florida, and Bush prevailed when the Supreme Court in 7-2 and 5-4 decisions gave him Florida. Regardless of whom you think won that election, President Bush doomed the GOP when he preemptively attacked Iraq. Not only did he attack the wrong country, he and his Republican allies on the Hill put the costs of Iraq and Afghanistan on the national credit card. The national debt skyrocketed, Wall Street got away with murder, and by 2008 the economy was in free fall. The Republicans had become their own worst enemy.
In 2008 any Democrat would have trounced any Republican. By 2012 even a weakened and ineffective President Obama had little trouble dispatching Mitt Romney who raced far to the right in the GOP primaries to appease the party’s extremists and thereafter was never able to establish his footing in the general election.
Left to their own suicidal devices the Republicans are now gearing up to lose in 2016, an election that history tells us should be theirs for the taking. Looking back over more than a half century makes plain that after two terms the American people usually turn the White House over to the opposition party. Given the fact that President Obama has been one of the most polarizing presidents ever, that most Americans believe the nation is on the wrong track, and that Hillary Clinton is loaded with partisan baggage, there should be little doubt about a forthcoming Republican victory next year.
But Hillary Clinton is a savvy and cunning politician. She smells victory. There’s a good chance she’s right because the Democrats have a decided edge in the Electoral College and because of the GOP’s suicidal instincts.
In the Electoral College the Democrats have a virtual lock on 19 states and the District of Columbia, giving them 247 of the 270 necessary votes for victory. Only eight states with 100 electoral votes are legitimate swing states. Of these Florida is the biggest prize with 29 electoral votes. That means, if the Democrats hold their Blue Fortress and win Florida, they win.
There are more than 20 Republicans who are considering running in 2016. Most of them will willingly race to the right in the primaries to court the party’s narrow and frenetic base. None of them, if nominated, can win. What the GOP needs to get a grip on is that in order to really repeal and replace Obamacare, in order to be in a position to nominate multiple justices to the Supreme Court in the coming years, and in order to restore the nation’s standing in the world, there is no substitute for winning the White House.
The only Republican in the current Republican Clown Car who can do that is Jeb Bush. Right Wing darlings like Rand Paul, Scott Walker and Ted Cruz are just what the doctor ordered for Hillary Clinton. Moreover, Jeb Bush can carry Florida. And that makes the race for the White House competitive!
The final piece of a Republican winning strategy is to deny the Democrats a key state in their Blue Fortress. That state is Michigan with its 16 electoral votes. Jeb Bush can deliver a message on jobs, energy independence and rebuilding America’s infrastructure that will resonate in states like Michigan and Ohio.
If Bush selects former Michigan Congressman Mike Rogers to be his running mate, the door to victory swings open. In Congress until last year, Rogers was the Chair of the House Intelligence Committee, a position that requires an ability to work across the aisle.
His expertise in intelligence, terrorism and defense is the perfect complement for Jeb Bush and his resume. Rogers is currently CNN’s National Security Commentator. He’s articulate, ambitious and young enough to seek the presidency in 2024.
Soon we’ll know if the adage, Stupid Is As Stupid Does, remains alive and well in the GOP.
Goldman worked on Capitol Hill and at the National Institutes of Health. He has retired to Flat Rock and can be reached at email@example.com.