So, George Herbert Bush is going to vote Clinton? Will this help?
Many people have (quite rightly) been saying that it’s incumbent on the heavyweights of the Republican Party not just to lay low and avoid commenting on Trump, not just to stay indoors on polling day, but to actually vote for Hillary Clinton, since the only realistic way of stopping Trump is to vote for Hillary Clinton and to encourage others to do likewise. No matter what you feel about Hillary Clinton, she is the only means of preventing a completely disgusting and destructive person getting nuclear codes. Clinton is a flawed individual with strengths and weaknesses. She has a “past” for sure, but if you can’t make rational decisions to get behind flawed candidates in a crisis then you have no right to call yourself an adult. Right now, people need to get loud and passionate about doing the only thing that can prevent a Trump Presidency. Trump, a willfully ignorant quick tempered bully with no boundaries and a climate change denier to boot, will simply kill far too many people if given the opportunity. Trump, a man for whom using and abusing power are synonymous will, if granted supreme power, abuse it supremely. A man whose repeated contempt for the defining Christian virtues of admitting mistakes and forgiving enemies is unprecedented in American political life cannot be inflicted on the USA – a great nation that contains many people that I love.
So at least one former President Bush has just confirmed that he will vote Clinton in solid and decided preference to a sociopath.
But winning over the Republican establishment will be worst than useless unless Clinton (and others) can somehow make sanity “cool” again. The appalling recent precedent is, of course, “Brexit”. The “Remain” campaign involved the leadership of every major political party, every established economic authority, and a clear working majority of the so-called “great and the good”. But this very consensus proved counter productive. In a campaign that will shame
Britain (or what’s left of it) for many decades to come, a “Leave” campaign spearheaded by recession-proof elitists with no loyalty to anything other than their own gargantuan egos decided to play the “anti-elitist” card. They won – even if they have no idea what to do with their “victory”.
Likewise Trump, a hereditary aristocrat who has never had to do a day’s work in his life and whose contempt for others is the product of lifelong elite privilege, has claimed to be “taking on elites”. With the same utter contempt for his own followers demonstrated by the likes of Boris Johnson, he is able to use the horrified disdain provoked by his own party’s grandees to his own advantage. “All mainstream politicians hate me – ain’t that a GOOD thing?”
Brexit has demonstrated that it’s possible to win with lies and hatred just by shouting the same lies louder even when (especially when) those lies are carefully refuted. If Trump becomes President, then
Britain (or what’s left of it) will be largely to blame for setting such a dreadful precedent. As someone who is stained and shamed by that reprehensible passport, I will be apologising to every American I know for President Donald Trump. Maybe I should start now. After all, I am guilty of immense moral cowardice in not recognising the sheer extent of fear, hatred and stupidity in the land of my birth. I have been shamefully blind to the horrible things that have been simmering there. And this moral cowardice may indirectly put Trump in a position of hideous power. For this, I need to atone.
But yes, it is, potentially “good news” that President Bush is supporting Clinton. But this kind of support will only translate into votes if sanity itself can be turned into some sort of positive political commodity. And if McCain, Romney and the other Bush also come out and support Clinton, this support will only translate into votes on the ground if the idea of “consensus” is itself revivified as something cherishable. Clinton now needs to sell the idea that having calm and constructive conversations is actually more attractive than screaming random abuse. She needs to sell the notion that building alliances is better than making unpredictable threats.
She needs to sell the idea that “politics” itself is not an inherently dirty business but is rather constitutive of Democracy itself, is part and parcel of the very framing and imagining of the USA. In the eighteenth-century, the USA created political structures designed to protect people from becoming the disposable playthings of demagogues like Trump. If Trump is to be defeated then Clinton needs to remind people that rational political debate is not some “elitist” conspiracy, but rather something that has liberated countless millions of people.
In other words, winning the vote of Bush senior will only count for Clinton if the whole concept of winning people over by persuasive means is actually recognised and celebrated. If Clinton cannot make a positive case for sanity, then Trump’s loud case for insanity will only exploit the fact that one more “establishment” figure is lining up behind “establishment” Hillary.