Last presidential election season, it was easy to spot. A seemingly endless stream of candidates ascended to the top slot on a weekly basis. From Herman “Nein-nein-nein” Cain to a desperate attempt to get the now-deceased Fred Thompson into the race, the clown car never seemed bereft of options.
This season, it’s been harder to spot because one name has managed to dominate the sideshow so long. Many of us braced for an entire general election season of The Donald. Trump did to lock up the crazy vote; a vote which to the dismay of many – not least the crazy people – wasn’t nearly enough to carry the day in Iowa.
Donald Trump got taken down by predictable means: Religious Right members who’ve raised enough children not to be gulled by his idiocy. Cruz will likely be hobbled by New Hampshire Republicans to whom his gross brand of ur-Conservativism is an anathema.
But there is a common thread between these two primary seasons and many before them. It’s what I think if as The Flaming Id.
The Flaming Id
Deep within the breast of every die-hard Conservative, there is a spoiled child that’s as certain they’re being cheated by someone less Conservative, as they are that the sun will come up tomorrow. They’re not sure if it’s The Blacks®, The Gays®, some sort of terrorist/Muslim/Kenyan cabal… but they’re damned sure it’s someone. Someone, of course, wrapped up in the iron-clad Politically Correct® armor Liberals built for them.
And they’re just as certain that if they breathed a word of any of this at work, they’d be fired. If they breathed a word of it in public, they’d be shunned. But that doesn’t mean they can’t cheer on a candidate to the presidency who says it!
Fundamentally, Democrats and Republicans think of and experience primaries completely differently. For Democrats, the challenge is always to get through the primaries with the sharpest elbows and the sweetest tongues. You don’t need to go about winning primaries by pissing off core constituencies. Primaries are awful things to the weak coalitions built of such disparate interests.
But primaries are like a $300 car to Republicans. They don’t mean shit except as an excuse to go joy riding through the mud. Cheerlead anyone you like: you know they won’t win. There’s no need to assume any responsibility for the way the primaries turn out, because one way or another, you know who will win. The man that will win will always be the stock Republican.
He’ll be the company man. The former governor. The business exec. And no, he won’t be whore-mongering, loud-mouthed Donald Trump. He’ll be someone that Establishment Republicanism can bank on for incremental change on taxes and due platitudes to religiosity.
Rubio is probably not the best stock candidate you’ve ever seen. He’s not very experienced. He’s pitifully inept on immigration. In general, he really doesn’t look that tough. But just because he’s not the best, that doesn’t mean he might not do the job. Time will tell. But the primaries? The primaries have nothing to do with it.