Jonathan Chait wrote a great and thorough article earlier this week, Being Less Crazy Than Donald Trump Does Not Make Marco Rubio “Moderate.” In it, he went through all of Rubio’s positions to show that he is on the hard right of his party. Chait made a good point of the fact that Rubio goes around talking about his education reform idea. But he does it so he doesn’t have to talk about his extreme positions. In addition, his education program is tiny. It would be like Hitler going around campaigning on the idea of the Volkswagen. But our media would just report about the Volkswagen, just as they are reporting about Rubio’s “moderation.”
The truth is that the three Republican candidates for president — Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and Rubio — are all extremists. They really don’t disagree about anything except how they ought to talk about their policies. In as much as they have policy differences, they all belong to Trump who looks liberal compared to the other two. So we have one candidate who the media currently has no problem calling an extremist, and he is the least extreme. Currently, of course, Ted Cruz is surging in the polls. And Brian Beutler thinks this is a good thing, Ted Cruz Is Exactly What the Political System Needs. It is subtitled, “Why Republicans and Democrats alike should welcome his nomination.” But for the second time in a week, I find myself very much in disagreement with him.
To start with, Beutler makes the argument that it would teach the Republicans a lesson. The media have been making this argument for decades. The conservative base always claims that they lose because they don’t run a “real” conservative. But this is not an actual argument. It is axiomatic. If a Republican loses the presidency, it is because they were not conservative enough. What every conservative “knows” is that the only reason any Republican ever loses any race is because they aren’t conservative enough. It’s like the old line, “I don’t know how Romney lost; everyone at the club voted for him!”
But the really dangerous assumption is that Ted Cruz would lose the general election. I don’t see that as a given at all. He could be Hitler pushing a new kind of car and he would win if the economy falls into recession next year. But there is another thing that will go on. As soon as it becomes clear who the Republican nominee will be, the elites will rally around him. They will talk about him as though he were just a garden variety Republican. (And they’ll be right, but not in the way they imply.) And so the mainstream media will not cover any of these three as though they are freaks. It will be the usual “Republicans are equal and opposite to Democrats.” If anything, we will see articles about how extreme Clinton is and how moderate Ted Cruz is.
The last thing that the American media ever want to do is admit that anything is wrong in the good ol’ USA. They act rather like a dysfunctional family at Christmas. “Don’t do anything to upset dad. Let’s just pretend that everything is okay.” But everything is not okay in America. We have a substantially better healthcare system today than we had seven years ago. Cost trends are down; access is up. It is the first step we’ve taken on the healthcare front to join the other advanced nations of the world. But every one of the GOP candidates wants to get rid of it on day one. They want to make life infinitely harder for the poor and middle class at the same time that they want to funnel huge amounts of money to the rich. This is a program that should appeal to at most 5% of the population. Yet it is a program that roughly 50% of the people will vote for.
There is something really wrong in America. And a big part of it is that upper class journalists keep insisting that nothing is wrong. It doesn’t matter if you vote for Ted Cruz or Hillary Clinton. Tweedledum and Tweedledee. But in fact, the decision really does represent the difference between millions of people dying. I know that sounds hyperbolic. But lack of healthcare kills people. Ever wider access to guns kills people. Lack of food kills people. Pretty much everything the modern Republican Party stands for kills people.
But on the television media and in the mainstream press, about all you’ll hear is that Cruz is polling well in Texas and Clinton in New York. And otherwise, there is no real difference.