Friday, February 19, 2016

Captain Obvious shoots himself in the foot

or how Jeb's "America" backfires

As Jeb's campaign self-destructs in South Carolina, it is clear that some persons are much better at pandering to the base of the GOP than others.  Jeb is very bad at it. Not only did he shoot himself in the foot with one of his more recent tweets, but his website recently expired and his server redirected persons to Trump's website.  Talk about the ultimate humiliation.

It doesn't stop there.  Jeb spent most of the past few weeks trying to woo Gov. Nikki Haley's endorsement in the upcoming South Carolina primary only for her to endorse Marco Rubio.  Jeb looked positively beaten in this video interview.  It was hard for "Captain Obvious" to put a smile on what has transpired in the Palmetto State.

From the get-go, Jeb has been running his campaign like it was 1999, and I mean that literally.  His campaign team has been blithely unaware of how the internet works, much less how effective it can be as a campaign tool.  Trump has built his entire campaign around twitter and instagram, having to fork out about one-tenth the cash the Jeb! campaign has spent just trying to stay within striking distance of the poll leader.

I suppose Jeb felt at some point Republican voters would get tired of Trump, as he obviously had, and that they would turn to serious candidates.  He campaigned heavily in New Hampshire and managed to scratch out a "respectable" fourth place finish and three delegates, but he is likely to get goose-egged in South Carolina, where his numbers are slipping badly.  All his attempts to pander to the conservative electoral base of the GOP have failed and now he is losing the establishment vote as well, as the three SC heavyweight Republicans have thrown their support behind Marco Rubio.

What has fascinated me about the Republican primaries is that none of the candidates have tried to go after the moderate vote.  They have all decided that they can't win unless they score a certain percentage among the conservative evangelical vote, so they aim their campaigns at the lowest common denominator in the party.

It might surprise you to know that 52 per cent of Republicans and Republican-leaning Independents accept Climate Change as real.  Only 26 per cent deny it, and 22 per cent have no opinion.  Yet, has any candidate besides George Pataki stressed climate change on the campaign trail?  Kasich begrudgingly admits it is real, but hasn't made it an issue.  He offers this lame response instead.  Jeb thinks climate change will solve itself.  If so many conservatives accept climate change is real, why not make it an issue, as it would distance yourself from idiots like Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, who persistently deny it is occurring.

Solar energy jobs outpace coal fuel jobs by three to one.  Solar and wind are the fastest growing energy companies in America.  Prices have tumbled on solar panels, making them affordable to most Americans.  Even Walmart has gotten in the game, using solar power to augment virtually all of its facilities.  Yet, not a single one of these candidates is willing to push alternative energy, even though it makes economic sense.  Much more so than Keystone XL, which they all push.

Jeb could have staked out a sustainable energy policy that would have made him a viable alternative to the conservative nay-sayers who dominate the election cycle.  Instead, he chose to pander to the base of the party and now finds himself polling a miserable 4 per cent in national polls.

Another thing you might find quite shocking is that 31 per cent of Republicans are pro-choice.  Of course, you would never know it to watch or read the conservative blogosphere, but this was from a Gallup Survey conducted May 29,2015.  This is a significant group of people, yet neither Jeb nor Kasich will approach the subject with a ten-foot poll, preferring to align themselves with the pro-life majority.  In a 16-way race as it was at the start of the campaign, 31 per cent would have made a candidate the clear front runner.

On gay marriage, you see similar numbers, with 32 per cent of Republicans giving their support.  Even self-professed conservatives showed 30 per cent support.  Again, a very sizable demographic that not a single one of the Republicans left in the race support.

Of course, these are more thorny issues than sustainable energy, as it would be hard to build a consensus in the party at the national convention, but still if a person wanted to stake oneself out as an alternative candidate, why not accept mainstream opinion on these issues and present oneself as a more viable candidate in a general election?

What we have are Republican candidates who are appealing only to the extreme right of their political spectrum, rather than try to play to the different gradients of the party.  Sheldon Adelson and the Koch Brothers are not the only party backers with deep pockets.  North Carolina billionaire Jay Faison pledged $175 million to push the Republican Party on climate change but got no takers.  Why?

Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was once the darling of Republicans as Governor of California is a big proponent of green energy, recently joining Bill Nye, the Science Guy, for an interesting and amusing National Geographic segment on climate change.  Surely, this is something you can pitch to Republicans in general and join everybody else in making our planet a safer place to live.

Probably the most shocking blown opportunity was Jeb's refusal to embrace immigration reform, putting border security first.  According to this survey conducted by Gallup in August, 2015, a whopping 50 per cent of Republicans support a path toward citizenship for illegal immigrants, and only 31 per cent favor deportation.  Here is a bilingual former governor of Florida with a multi-cultural family and he couldn't make what was an obvious decision to fully support immigration reform.

When Jeb looks back at his failed campaign, he will wish he had been more like Arnold and less like Trump, promoting positive causes, which he initially claimed he was going to do, rather than wallow in the same moshpit with the other candidates in an attempt to curry favor with the base of the Republican party.  He missed out on a large disaffected cross-section of Republican voters who would have been all too glad to support him as the only reasonable candidate in the bunch.  Instead, he will be remembered as the candidate who shot himself in the foot.

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