The Republican Establishment has begun its collective freakout that Donald Trump may win. I have long maintained I’d support Trump over Kasich and would gladly vote for Trump if he is the nominee.
But part of me wonders what would happen if Jeb Bush walked away.
It may be too late, but early on a lot of Trump’s core support was from people who saw the Republican Establishment doing for Jeb Bush what they had done for both John McCain and even more so for Mitt Romney. The same people were lined up in the same way to try to do some sort of coronation.
Now, a lot of Trump’s support is for Trump, not against Bush. It has morphed over time. But there is still a strong contingent who believe in the binary — if you are not for Trump, you are for Jeb Bush. I’m sure if Bush walked away, it would become against Rubio. The Trump folks seem to recognize this and have spent a lot of time bashing Rubio lately.
Still, I wonder what would happen if Bush walked away. The odds are he does not, but the odds are also that as long as Jeb Bush hangs on, he prevents a necessary shake up in the race for those who are anti-establishment to look again at the field. There is a psychological hold on a lot of the anti-establishment forces convinced that Bush, by virtue of his last name and perceived second coming of Romney, will walk away with the nomination if left unchecked.
If Jeb Bush goes away, so too do many of those psychological holds, barring a Bush endorsement for someone else.
While Bush is not my choice, I do like the guy. He is a very decent, good guy. But at this point, I do wonder about his campaign. I also think there is a lot more value in Bush walking away and helping remove some of the fever gripping those opposed to another coronation by those who lined up behind McCain and Romney.
What is most striking about 2016 is the inability of the Establishment to concede its need to compromise after years of telling conservatives that they need to compromise. The Establishment would rather see the whole ship sink than see an outsider win. And in doing so, an outsider is winning and probably will win.
Bush is, to be sure, more a victim of anti-establishment angst than a cause of it. But his continued presence in the race adds fuel to fires he did not light, but that will consume him and possibly the Republican Party. It is not fair. But it is true.