Daily Beast Writer: Republican Primaries Would Be Much Better Without All Those Far-Right Voters

Lefty pundit Michael Tomasky is no populist, at least when it comes to the Republican party. He gives props to GOP politicians like Marco Rubio who have “serious and unorthodox ideas,” but expects that Rubio, et al will soft-pedal said ideas during the presidential primaries since “you can’t be a smart candidate in a party that wants to be stupid.”

In a Wednesday Daily Beast column, Tomasky asserted that “the 800-pound gorilla of this [Republican] primary process is…the aging, white, very conservative, revanchist, fearful voter for whom the primary season is not chiefly an exercise in choosing a credible nominee who might win in November, but a Parris Island-style ideological obstacle course on which each candidate must strain to outdo his competitors—the hate-on-immigrants wall climb, the gay-bashing rope climb, the death-to-the-moocher-class monkey bridge.”

From Tomasky’s piece, headlined “The GOP Primary Is Where Ideas Go to Die” (bolding added):

[T]he 800-pound gorilla of this [Republican] primary process is…the same person it was in 2008, and again in 2012, when two quite plausible mainstream-conservative candidates had to haul themselves so far to the right that they ended up being unelectable. It’s the Republican primary voter.

To be more blunt about it: the aging, white, very conservative, revanchist, fearful voter for whom the primary season is not chiefly an exercise in choosing a credible nominee who might win in November, but a Parris Island-style ideological obstacle course on which each candidate must strain to outdo his competitors—the hate-on-immigrants wall climb, the gay-bashing rope climb, the death-to-the-moocher-class monkey bridge...

…[T]his voter…booed the mention of a United States soldier during a debate because the soldier happened to be gay. He booed contraception…He lustily cheered the death penalty. He tossed Rick Perry out on his ear in part because the Texas governor had the audacity to utter a few relatively humane words about children of undocumented immigrants...

…[S]ome of these candidates come to us with a few serious and unorthodox ideas. We all know about Rand Paul and his ideas about sentencing reform and racial disparities…But how much do we think he’s going to be talking up this issue as the Iowa voting nears?...

…Rubio...favors “income-based repayment” on student loans…

…[He also would] like to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit to more childless couples…

Now, there is to be sure another Rubio…He is apparently now the quasi-official blessed-be-the-warmakers candidate, with his reflexive hard lines on Iran and Cuba. Along with Senate colleague Mike Lee of Utah, he also has put forth a tax plan that would deplete the treasury by some $4 trillion over 10 years…in order that most of those dollars be placed in the hands where the Republicans’ God says they belong, i.e., the 1 percent of the people who already hold nearly half the country’s wealth.

I think it’s a safe bet that we’ll see the neocon Rubio and the supply-side Rubio out on the stump. But the Rubio who wants to make life better for indebted students and working-poor childless couples? Either we won’t see that Rubio at all, or we will see him and he’ll finish fourth in Iowa and New Hampshire and go home. You can’t be a smart candidate in a party that wants to be stupid.

After all, how did Scott Walker bolt to the front of the pack? It wasn’t by talking about how to expand health care. It was by giving one speech, at an event hosted by one of Congress’ most fanatical reactionaries (Steve King of Iowa), bragging about how he crushed Wisconsin’s municipal unions. That’s how you get ahead in this GOP. I’d imagine Rubio and Paul and the rest of them took note.

Campaigns & Elections 2016 Presidential Conservatives & Republicans The Daily Beast Scott Walker Michael Tomasky Marco Rubio Rand Paul


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