Megyn Kelly interviewed former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush on her program Monday night. For a spectacularly awful 30 minutes, the Republican presidential nominee proceeded to defend virtually every non-libertarian position a GOP candidate could conceivably hold.
Most notably, he expressed vociferous support for his brother's Iraq War—not just in its original context, but even with the benefit of hindsight. He also defended Common Core, the controversial national education standards for math and English, because American children are falling behind their international competitors and our schools need standards—even though those standards are being imposed on the states via federal pressure and are loathed by adherents of every ideology, from Tea Party activists to teachers unions.
But Bush didn't stop there! He also attacked the Obama administration for capitulating to Iran and reaching out to Cuba. Oh, and he praised law enforcement, said the Baltimore police force was doing a great job, and denied that police brutality is a systemic problem.
Did I mention that this man is likely to become the Republican Party's 2016 presidential nominee?
Look, I'm a cynical libertarian. I know that we should always assume the worst outcome in every election. I know that people who enjoy exercising power over others are the kind of people who win national office. I get it. But… seriously? Is this the best Republicans can do?
I was struck by the fact that many of his positions are not merely antithetical to libertarianism, but also to conservatism. Many conservative-leaning Republicans have some questions about whether endless interventionism really makes America safer, and virtually all of them oppose Common Core.
Would-be Republican candidates should not take libertarian votes for granted to this extent and get away with it. Even Mitt Romney, the 2012 candidate, made occasional paeans to libertarianism. Semi-libertarian presidential candidate Rand Paul evidently feels the need to moderate his positions to appeal to the Republican base; why does Bush not feel obligated to do the same thing, but in reverse?
Take almost any generic Republican—take Texas Gov. Rick Perry, the closest one can get to a Bush clone outside the literal Bush family—and you will at least find some pandering to libertarianism. I would assert that Perry, by no means a libertarian (and not actually a candidate), is more libertarian than Bush, as evidenced by this interview.
Bush's fearless defense of government intervention into so many aspects of foreign and domestic policy should be vexing, not just to libertarians, but for anyone who aspires to cast a ballot for a candidate other than Hillary Clinton.