I hate to write about the Republican presidential candidates because they are really all the same. That is probably the biggest element to the “clown car” aspect of the nomination process. If they actually had different policies — regardless of how extreme — there would be something worth paying attention to. But instead, it is all just a game of one upmanship. We saw that most hilariously recently when Jeb Bush said that his policies would increase economic growth to 4%. It was a totally unrealistic promise based upon no economic theory. Predictably, Mike Huckabee proposed 6% growth via his “fair tax,” because what the hell?! Neither claims mean anything, so why not throw out random numbers. Maybe Herman Cain can come back with a new 9-9-9 plan: 27% growth! (Or 729% if you want to multiply the numbers.)
And now, Jonathan Chait has reported, Scott Walker, Marco Rubio Propose “Plans” to Replace Obamacare. He describes them as “not so much plans as skeletal descriptions of planlike concepts.” As I’ve noted many times before, Obamacare is the conservative healthcare reform plan. If the goal is to make our healthcare system work better, Obamacare is about as conservative as we are going to get. This is why for the last six years, all the Republican plans to replace Obamacare have been nothing but a collection of policies that Republicans want for other reasons. The best any of them would do would be to marginally improve the system. The worst of them — like buying insurance across state lines — would make the system worse.
Or consider Planned Parenthood. Donald Trump is the only Republican presidential candidate who doesn’t want to simply defund the group. The candidates walk in lockstep like a group of Nazi Youth on parade. That’s the Big Tent, my friends: everyone thinks the same thing except for the idiosyncratic billionaire who the Republican establishment claims isn’t a real Republican.
This all comes down to the fact that the Republican Party really is post-policy. It has nothing to offer that appeals to the people. But that isn’t to say that it has nothing to offer. To its true consistency — the haves and the have mores — they have lots of policy ideas. But those are too vile for public consumption. And this is where we get into the more vexing issue of how the Democrats have allowed this by moving to the right themselves — providing no real policy ground for the Republicans.
The big problem that we face today in US politics is that the Democratic Party has long been determined to be Republican Lite. But given that the Republicans don’t stand for much of anything other than enriching themselves and their rich friends, what does it mean to be “not as bad as” them? Still, I’ve become somewhat optimistic during the campaign thus far. Even while the Republicans are showing themselves to have nothing to offer, the Democratic primary is turning out to be fairly substantial. I like what I’m hearing from Clinton, Sanders, and O’Malley. There are real issues and they are talking about how to address them. It’s an amazing contrast to the Republicans who make up problems (slow economic growth, Obamacare, Planned Parenthood) and demagogue the issues to see who can sound most badass.