According to a new story in the Wall Street Journal, vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence paid a visit to Jeb Bush’s Biltmore Hotel office at the end of July in an attempt to mend fences and bring the former Florida governor around on Donald Trump. According to Bush’s spokesperson, however, he remains firmly in the anti-Trump camp for now.
“The governor’s position on Trump remains the same,” said spokeswoman Kristy Campbell, “and he will not be voting for him or Hillary Clinton in November.”
Some people just don’t know when to say uncle.
We can debate the reasons behind Bush’s steadfast refusal to support Trump all day long. Is it because he is still personally insulted? Still licking his wounds? Or does his opposition come from a more sincere place?
Whatever the case might be, he’s missing the boat.
In an op-ed for the Washington Post last month, Bush said this about Trump:
While he has no doubt tapped into the anxiety so prevalent in the United States today, I do not believe Donald Trump reflects the principles or inclusive legacy of the Republican Party. And I sincerely hope he doesn’t represent its future.
But what Bush doesn’t understand is that Donald Trump reflects the will of the voters, not the imaginary institution known as the “Republican Party.” That’s just a name. What Trump represents is something much bigger and much less restrictive. He came out, said what he said, and everything after that has been largely out of his control. It doesn’t matter if he makes a thousand “missteps” from here to November; he is only the figurehead of a larger American awakening that is not going to vanish if Trump is defeated.
Maybe the flavor of that awakening isn’t to Jeb Bush’s liking, but that’s fine. The mistake he’s making is thinking it matters what he thinks about it. The mistake he’s making is in thinking that things will suddenly go back to the way he wants them after this election is over. There’s no going back. If Trump loses, the frustration felt by millions will be palpable and unstoppable. No one’s going to say, “Oh well, I guess we were wrong. Maybe Mitt Romney will run in 2020…”
This was never about redefining conservatism or the Republican Party. It’s about something much larger.