Dear Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, and Donald Trump: Stop trying to extort GOP voters instead of persuading them

In context, Jeb’s strategy is the worst of all. Jeb is focused laser-like on sinking Marco Rubio in the hopes of rendering himself nominally the only candidate left standing between the GOP establishment and a Trump nomination. What is especially awful about this is both the irony of Jeb using a SuperPAC called “Right to Rise” to try to prevent the rise of a guy Jeb himself had supported and to some extent mentored a decade ago, precisely the sort of next-generation Republican who was supposed to carry the conservative movement to the next level. Now Jeb seeks to burn him down…for what?…

If you are following along at home, even aside from its many other flaws, the glaring weakness in this plan is obvious: Jeb assumes that at some point in the campaign, Ted Cruz gets hit by a meteor, eaten by a roving pack of hyenas, or swallowed up by the Earth. The problem is, Jeb has no plan for where Cruz’s grassroots conservative supporters might go in that scenario. Rubio, at least, has an endgame in this scenario, because his whole theory of the race from the outset is that he can compete with Cruz for conservatives and compete with the likes of Jeb for establishment-minded voters. But Jeb and conservatives parted company at least a decade ago. His potential base is too small, and he’s all but stopped even trying to persuade anyone outside it. All that remains is to try to ruin Rubio and hope that eliminates any other viable options for those voters who might prefer Jeb to Trump and Cruz.