Here is something to think about as we approach Super Tuesday.
If Marco Rubio becomes president, we can expect:
1.) That he will work with Democrats and the GOP leadership in Congress to pass something that looks like the Gang of Eight amnesty bill.
2.) That he will urge Congress to pass any trade agreements that Obama has signed.
3.) That he will send significant numbers of U.S. troops to the Middle East.
4.) That his foreign policy will be developed by many of the same people who advised George W. Bush.
5.) That his economic policy will reflect the views of those who were in power when the United States was hit by the economic crisis of 2008.
Now, I don’t think any of these points are truly controversial. Somewhere, there may be naïve people who actually believe that Rubio will put border enforcement first. But all sophisticated analysts of politics — including the folks at National Review — certainly expect that a President Rubio will support the same type of amnesty that was supported by Sen. Rubio. And on the other issues, Rubio has not even pretended that he will break with the Obama/Bush trade policy, the Bush foreign policy, or the Bush economic policy.
For almost eight years, it has been increasingly clear that many, many Republicans — probably a majority of the party — do not agree with any of the five principles outlined above. Time and time again, grassroots and movement conservatives have expressed their opposition to all five of the key planks in Rubio’s platform. These Republicans do not support the Gang of Eight bill. They do not support Obama’s trade deals. They do not want to spend huge amounts of blood and treasure again in the Middle East. And they most certainly do not want the economy to look like it did in the fall of 2008.
These voters have tried, through every means available, to make their opposition felt. They are the reason that Eric Cantor is no longer in the House. They are the reason that the Gang of Eight bill didn’t pass. They are the reason that John Boehner is no longer speaker. And they are the reason that Donald Trump and Ted Cruz have dominated the polls for months.
Many people have urged the Rubio donor network, think-tank fellows and media supporters to back off on their policy demands — to do more than simply acknowledge “the voters are right to be angry.” In fact, Gov. Chris Christie advocated for compromise during a speech at St. Anselm’s College earlier this year. People such as former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan wrote recently that the GOP must be more sensitive to the concerns of working-class voters, whom she dubbed the “unprotected.”
Nevertheless, even today, the Rubio supporters refuse to budge. They could have supported Govs. Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal, or Christie, or Carly Fiorina. Even today they could support Gov. John Kasich or Sen. Ted Cruz. But from the beginning, most of the Rubio supporters have made it clear that they are only willing to support two people: Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio. They have shot down every other candidate who has been offered. And many have publicly and privately threatened to bolt the party and support Hillary Clinton if they don’t get their way.
Furthermore, the Rubio supporters have, for the most part, flatly refused even to debate the policy issues at stake here. They will not even discuss changing our trade policy. They make some noises about immigration enforcement, but this is not done in a spirit of compromise, but with the arrogance of those who know that no one really expects them to change their views if they win. For all the complaints about Trump’s policy generalities, Establishment GOP types have not even pretended to engage in a serious debate. Their offer is simple: You do as we say, or we will throw the election to Hillary.
Ironically, last summer these same people were obsessing about nailing Trump down with that debate pledge to support whomever the GOP nominated.
Haven’t we seen this over and over and over? Didn’t they do the same thing in 2008, when they shot down Mike Huckabee? Didn’t they do it in 2012, when they shot down Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum? Didn’t we see it last year, when they gave over $100 million to Jeb before the race had even begun?
It is this fanaticism — this complete unwillingness to change their policy or even to debate the possibility of serious change — that has put us in the position we are today.
This is the reason old Reaganites like Pat Buchanan and Phyllis Schlafly understand and are looking kindly on Trump’s campaign, because they know you must utterly rout the Establishment in order to change policy.
This is the reason people like Senator Jeff Sessions and Sarah Palin are supporting Trump — because they understand that compromise is impossible with an entrenched oligarchy.
This is the reason Christie has endorsed Trump — because he recognizes that Rubio and his supporters will lead us down a path that will be disastrous for the party.
As a committed conservative for more than three decades, I am not happy about the potential break-up of the GOP. I have supported the Republican Party for almost 40 years, and I fully intended to support it for the rest of my life. I have great respect and admiration for many of the people in the Rubio camp, and I know we have won important victories together.
But I do not see how things can go on as they are now. I do not see how you can ask the working-class people of this country to support a collection of policies that have failed them over and over and over.
What do the Rubio supporters think? That he is a better administrator than George W. Bush? That he will staff his administration with better people? That somehow his youth, or his background, will magically make the same policies that failed in the 2000s begin to work?
Of course, they do not say. Even today, with the fate of the party at stake, their only argument is to attack Trump and his supporters, to call them stupid, and racist, nativist, and isolationist and every other epithet they can lift from the editorial pages of the New York Times and the Washington Post.
In the end, they have left the opponents of the status quo no choice — they must either defeat Rubio, and radically change the power structure of the GOP, or they must watch Obama’s immigration policy, Obama’s trade policy, Bush’s foreign policy, and Bush’s economic policy, be implemented.
On Tuesday, we’ll know how the voters react to those alternatives.