Establishment Republicans are reportedly pushing former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-Fla.) to run for president in 2016. Former Secretary of State and Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) is the only Democratic candidate anyone can even think of. WTF is going on, I ask in my new Daily Beast col.
What is it that Faulkner said in Requiem for a Nun (1950)? "The past is never dead. It's not even past." Who knew that he was talking about politics in the goddamned 21st century, not Yoknapatawpha County after the Civil War?
It's not a mystery why elites would totally dig a retro contest between two of the nation's least-appealing families. It would mean that zombified pundits such as David Gergen, whose lack of cogency is directly proportional to the number of administrations in which he served, could push off retirement a few more years and writers such as [New York Times' columnist Maureen] Dowd, who peaked in terms of what passes for wit and originality during the Clinton era, could recycle old columns as unashamedly as Cate Blanchet recycles plastic bags at the local Safeway. GOP and Democratic apparatchiks and their big-money enablers wouldn't have to struggle with the grim and unavoidable fact that fewer and fewer of us are willing to identify with either party—even to strangers on the phone.
But for the large and growing plurality of us who are independents, there's simply no advantage in putting up with this politics of exhaustion, of the elite's fixation on characters and policies from the past. We need a reboot that's not simply the same-old, same-old.
First and foremost, that reboot means actually confronting entitlement spending (especially on Medicare) that is both unsustainable and immoral. It also means coming to terms with the absolutely failed foreign policies prosecuted by Jeb Bush's brother and Hillary Clinton's former boss. And it means taking seriously politicians as different as Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), the libertarian-leaning Tea Party favorite, and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the socialist former mayor of Burlington. At least these guys are talking about the future, rather than enacting a weird dance with the past.