By Quin Hillyer
One of the few things Jeb Bush is right about is his obvious belief that Donald Trump is a menace. Fine. If Bush really believes that, and if he really wants to do a great service to our country, then the former Florida governor should take one bold step to suck the (hot) air from Trump’s balloon: Withdraw from the presidential race.
If Jeb Bush withdraws, a hy-u-uuge portion of the rationale for Trump’s candidacy will be withdrawn as well.
Trump is soaring in polls for four main reasons. First, because he talks tough, in plain language. Second, because he seems to represent big success (even though he’s nowhere near as successful as he claims). Third, because he tapped into honest popular anger against failure to enforce our laws against illegal immigration. And fourth, the most important reason of all, Trump seems to represent the single easiest way for voters to express disgust at the political “establishment” – a disgust driven by the sense that the same old people, the same old peddlers of influence, the same old viewpoints enjoy permanent power in national affairs, no matter what the public wants.
The fourth reason in many ways incorporates, and in other ways supersedes, the first three. Much of the public sees the Washington system of entrenched elites and says, in effect: “Burn it down. Burn it down now. Destroy the whole thing and start over.”
They see Trump as the carrier of their torch. And they see the dynastic possibilities of another Bush-Clinton presidential race as proof positive that the torch is needed.
Indeed, Jeb Bush is the very embodiment of insider privilege. Nobody else’s camp can raise more than $100 million in half a year, merely by trading on a last name and twisting arms. Nobody else sits on his throne and dismisses illegal immigration as “acts of love,” while intimating that those who object to it are less than loving. Nobody so frequently looks peevish when confronted with the actual necessities of campaigning among “ordinary” people.
The public wants a scalp from the ruling class. The public wants to see that its desire for a shake-up won’t be ignored. The public wants to know that business won’t be done as usual, by the usual suspects.
Yet if voters see the establishment’s boy laid low, and the ruling class bereft of a standard-bearer, their angry boil might be lanced. If they see that the boogeyman is gone, they won’t any longer need a wild-eyed warlock to slay him. You need no overdose of garlic to keep away a non-existent vampire.
With Bush gone, voters can focus less on what they are against – insider business as usual – than on what they are for. They can decide whether Trump’s self-absorbed bombast actually is what they want in the Oval Office for the next four years, or if there is another outsider in the field with more relevant accomplishments, more appropriate temperament, more consistency, and better judgment.
Jeb Bush already is flailing in the polls, wasting the $100 million his web of influence has secured for him. He’s not going to beat Trump by running at him. If Jeb Bush and his people are appalled by Donald Trump, they should take away his very reason for being. Bush should get out of the race – and take Trump with him.