Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Still the Party of the Stupid

Among the large batch of podcasts I currently consume each week, I have gotten hooked on Slate's Political Gabfest. While I usually think the three regular bobbleheads on that podcast are pretty astute, a few weeks back they all seemed to agree that the field of Republican Presidential candidates is really strong this time around--as opposed to the craziness we saw in the 2012 GOP primary. "Really?" thunked I. It looks to me like the Republicans are going right down the same road to stupid that they did last time around. The batch of possible candidates this time didn't seem any less ridiculous than last time. But maybe that was just my political bias speaking.
Then I read Michael Tomasky's piece.

The problem isn't how "seasoned" the candidates are (that is what the Gabfesters seemed to be focused on). Michelle Bachmann was one of the main clowns in the 2012 clown car, but she had been a member of Congress for 6 years. Newt Gingrich was in Congress even longer and he was even the Speaker of the House. There were former governors (Huntsman, Romney) and Senators (Santorum). Sure, there was Herman Cain, but other than that, just about everyone had political seasoning. That didn't mean they weren't a bunch of loony-can't-win candidates who nevertheless managed to garner significant support. The problem with the candidates is that they avoided any substantive discussion of policy and instead relied entirely on zingers that demonstrating a deep abiding belief that their supporters wanted stupidity over substance.

I just don't see that changing. None of the candidates who have entered the stage so far are basing their run on policy. There is a potential policy discussion on the right. Jeb Bush, for example, is on record being in favor of immigration reform and the common core. But rather than running an issue-based campaign, Jeb is signaling that he intends to run as far away from his prior positions as he can, just as Romney did in 2012 (look how well that worked for him!)

Back in 2009, I wrote about how the Republican Party's reaction to Obama's victory was to become a political party that actively courted the stupid vote. I don't see any sign of that letting up.