At a rally in South Carolina on Wednesday, Jeb Bush made the claim that Donald Trump would be a worse president than the one currently in office. “We will be worse off than we are now,” Bush said of a Trump presidency. “And we’re really bad off right now.”
Bush went on to say that the Republican brand was being tarnished by outsider candidates. “Our party is being hijacked by people who do not believe in the goodness of the conservative cause,” he said. “I do. I believe in it.”
To hear the former governor of Florida attack Trump is nothing new; the two have exchanged more insults than any other two candidates in the race. But in the litany of barbs Bush has thrown at the surprise frontrunner, this one is undoubtedly the silliest. It’s not impossible to imagine a president worse than Obama – just look at a certain Vermont senator – but it wouldn’t be Trump. Even if he completely screwed the pooch on everything else, Trump would create an incomparably brighter future by severely curtailing illegal immigration. He wouldn’t even have to make good on his deportation promises. The wall alone, and the border shutdown it represents, would save America from an inexorable slide into mediocrity.
The problem here is this. We don’t need a president who is “better” than Obama. If that’s the bar, we can just go home and let Hillary Clinton ascend to the throne. When the only standard is to be better than the worst president in modern history, it takes quite a bit of the pressure off. Yes, Bush would be a significant improvement over the last seven years, but we need so much more than that. We deserve so much more.
Introducing Bush, Sen. Lindsey Graham took his own potshots. “Let’s don’t go from incompetent – Barack Obama – to crazy, which is about two of the people on our side,” he said.
Assuming that the other person Graham is referring to is Ted Cruz, we can safely roll our eyes at Bush’s moral authority over conservatism. No one in this race is more aligned with conservative principles than Cruz. Apparently Bush and his friends believe that you must occupy a very narrow window of conservatism. Not too much, not too little. And he wonders why this lukewarm approach isn’t inspiring the voters.
The message coming from Republicans in the 2014 midterms was beautifully conservative. But as we saw, electing proclaimed conservatives who don’t actually get anything done is not a strategy for success. Trump isn’t winning because his supporters despise Obama’s liberalism. He’s winning because for seven years, the GOP has done almost nothing to thwart his agenda. Call it betrayal, call it incompetence, call it what you will. But Republican voters are sick of politicians who are Spartans on the campaign trail and sheep after the election. We don’t just need a conservative; we need a warrior.