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February 01, 2016

Why Marco Rubio Could Very Well Win

A friend proposed to me that Trump would never win, as Cruz would never win, because, in the end, Republicans will do what Republicans have been doing for 30 years, settling, unenthusiastically, on a choice that seems "safe."

The idea is that one should ignore all the particulars of a race -- candidate personality, agenda, etc. -- and focus on the structural underpinnings which decide most races.

Republicans, he reminded me, aren't all bloggers or angry young men who can just shrug off the possibility of massive upheavals or political chaos. They own businesses. They have mortgages. They have, crucially, children.

All of these things make them more risk-averse in their political choices than they might be if ideology were their primary motivator.

Now I have huge problems with Rubio. For all the talk of his "new ideas," he only seems to have George W. Bush's ideas, which are pretty unpopular now.

His speeches leave me ice-cold -- people talk about the kind words he has for America, but 1, that's easy and cheap, and 2, I don't hear him talking about America as America.

What I hear him talking about is Marco Rubio, and how America is a great country because it let Marco Rubio's parents in, and how Marco Rubio's life story redeems America. It's a sort of Obama-like praise of the country -- a praise heavily focused on Rubio, or Obama, as if either of these two men are the final solution to a difficult mathematical equation which America has been trying to solve for 240 years.

He talks about America being a country of immigrants without seeming to notice that, in fact, most Americans are not first, second, or third generation immigrants.

Nevertheless, the Establishment has convinced itself that Marco Rubio is the most "electable" candidate, because they think, wrongly I believe, that all it takes is a Spanish speaker to repeat George W. Bush's basic political prescriptions and the Hispanic vote will flock to us (or at least, say, 40% will).

And because the Establishment, and all of its idea-propagation power (and it has a lot of idea propagation power), has deemed Rubio the "safest" of all candidates, most people, who rely on group consensus for their own decisions, are deeming him the "safest" as well.

And then add into that Republicans' fundamental preference for "safe" over revolutionary or radical and you have a pretty good structuralist case for Marco Rubio's surprise win.

I don't know if I'd go so far as to predict that, though I'm leaning that way. Cruz is getting beaten up bad, now that he's a front runner (or until recently a front runner), and Trump is unable to break out beyond his stalwarts.

Meanwhile, the establishment and its thousand meme-carriers just keep repeating the idea that a relatively untested Senator espousing a version of George W. Bush's largely-unpopular agenda is somehow very "safe" and very "electable."

What are Marco Rubio's thoughts the legality of abortion in cases of rape?

Well, he's against it. Not a popular position.

He doesn't sound very moderate as regards foreign interventions -- another unpopular stance easily painted as "extremist."

I find the case for Marco Rubio to be incoherent -- on one hand, he's presented as a palatable candidate with high appeal to moderates.

On the other hand, his champions like him because he's "very conservative."

So wait, which is it -- his moderation, or his ideological purity, that makes him a winner?

It keeps coming down to the idea, I think, that he's Hispanic, and that will make his more ideological rigid positions seem "moderate."

He certainly doesn't have Reagan's ability to make conservatism sound like the most common-sense and reasonable philosophy in the world.

For the all the claims that this or that candidate is too "extreme," Rubio has a lot of unpopular stances himself, which never get talked about, because the political establishment has decided, for some reason, he's a winner.

The one thing he's definitely "moderate" on is immigration and amnesty. Does that one moderate arrow make his whole quiver moderate?

Yet, that's what the establishment says, and many people listen to what the establishment says.

And he just might win Iowa, and maybe even the primary.

And then we'll see if the establishment's track record in picking "safe and electable general election candidates" has improved any.

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posted by Ace at 04:16 PM

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