Pick Your Poison

Do you remember “Operation Chaos,” Rush Limbaugh’s 2008 attempt to artificially extend the Democratic presidential primary between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, with the idea being that the presumably exhausted winner of that primary would be easy pickings for John McCain? Of course, that strategy didn’t exactly work out.

Had the strategy been successful, I’d have no problem whatsoever with Democrats using similar tactics, manipulating the 2016 GOP primary system to force Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney to pound each other into the dust for as long as possible. The thought of either man becoming the 45th president and sticking more Scalias on the Supreme Court is stomach-churning.

Yet, there’s a good chance that depending on who wins the GOP nomination, either Jeb or Mitt will become the next president; sadly, there are plenty of voters in this still-sexist society who will never be ready for Hillary. That forces us to consider the question: between Bush and Romney, who would screw over this country less?

Granted, the thought of choosing between Jeb and Mitt is sort of like choosing between syphilis and gonorrhea. However, consider the following:

If we are to be governed by a Republican between 2017 and 2021, would it not be better, from a progressive perspective, to be governed by a shallow, pliable, weak man like Romney rather than a hardcore wingnut ideologue such as Bush? Because Romney has no ideological core–liberal in one election, moderate in another, “severely conservative” in a third–he could presumably yield to protracted progressive pressure, especially if his party were to lose seats in the House and Senate in 2016 and 2018.

However, a known zealot like Bush–a pudgier Ted Cruz, basically–would likely drive this country to the brink of economic and ecological Armageddon. By the end of Jeb Bush’s term, cemeteries from coast to coast would be capacity-filled with the bodies of young women who rammed coat hangers into their wombs and bled to death because a safe abortion was virtually impossible to obtain. Not one square inch of this land would go unfracked. We’d find ourselves in a needless war that would dwarf the Vietnam War’s casualty rate. Birth defects would soar as more pollution spewed into the air, unrestricted by a neutered EPA. Income inequality would increase exponentially. Black men would seek to leave the United States en masse for fear of being slaughtered by ever-more-aggressive law enforcement. The very vulnerable would resemble the residents of Stevie Wonder’s “Village Ghetto Land”:

Children play with rusted cars,
Sores cover their hands,
Politicians laugh and drink,
Drunk to all demands.

Families buying dog food now,
Starvation roams the streets,
Babies die before they’re born.
Infected by the grief…

George W. Bush may have been an alcoholic, but Jeb’s still an addict, letting the narcotic of Reaganomics trickle down into his veins. Under a President Jeb Bush, we would all freebase on fear, overdose on obnoxiousness, and inject ourselves with idiocy.

I have no love for Romney, but this country could survive him. The same cannot be said for Bush. With Dubya’s brother in charge, America would collapse like that bridge in Minnesota or that walkway in Missouri. It would make the Hoover Administration look like the good old days.

Romney would be an irritating president, to say the least, but at least he’s eager to please whatever audience he’s in front of. If he’s facing an audience of Americans demanding changes in economic and energy policy to benefit the 99 percent, I don’t think he’s the sort of person who would wholly ignore those demands.

Frankly, I fear Bush in the White House more than I fear Romney. Say what you will about Romney’s Mormon faith, but I fear that Bush is the real cult member, brainwashed by the Stephen Moores and Bill Kristols of the world. He is a ravenous wolf in human clothing–and, if elected, the flesh of the middle class will be his feast.

Four years of Romney would be tough. Four years of Bush would be tyranny—think Chile under Pinochet.

I will vote for Hillary Clinton on November 8, 2016. However, if she doesn’t win, then hopefully the person who defeats her will be the lesser of two Republican evils.

D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.