Tuesday, March 5, 2013

2016: Bush v. Clinton. Really?

Jeb Bush, speaking with Matt Lauer on the Today Show yesterday, said he wouldn't rule out running for President in 2016. And I guess if he were to run--and win the nomination--would could very well have a repeat of 1992, at least in name, given that Hillary Clinton seems to very much be the front runner on the Democratic side.

Frankly, I think that sucks.

There are things I like about Jeb Bush--he was the governor of my State, so I know whereof I speak--and things I don't like. Chief among the former is his ability to manage crisis situations, evidenced time and again during Hurricane seasons when Jeb's response to such storms put the responses of other leaders in other States--and in Florida--to shame. That's no small thing. As much heat as his brother caught for Katrina, Jeb has gotten almost nothing but praise in one situation after another. Chief among the latter--the things I don't like about him--was his interjection of the State into the Terri Schiavo case. But that's ancient history and I have no intention of going into it now.

Hillary Clinton? I'm not a fan. People who make up stories about landing at an airport under heavy sniper then having to run for cover across the tarmac are not people I'm generally willing to trust. That said, she's a competent politician, as far as Washington, D.C. goes. And really, a Hillary Clinton presidency would probably have been preferable in many ways to the one we have had for the past four plus years. As the Secretary of State, her record has its ups and downs, no doubt, but most would again allow that at the very least she has been a competent one.

So what, then, is the problem with another Bush v. Clinton? Simple, it's a horrible trend. Honestly, I wan't happy about Bush being the Republican nominee in 2000, but given the alternative--McCain--I accepted it. And in the 2000 Election, Gore was most definitely not someone I would ever support (for the record, I voted for Bill Clinton, not once but twice, and think I made the right choice to this day). Still, the son of a previous President being elected President, it's not anywhere close to being the ideal. Exactly the opposite, in fact.

Historically, there have been other political dynasties in the U.S. And at state and local levels, there are still many of them going strong. These dynasties come about because people mistakenly believe there is a legitimate link between old and new, that leadership skills are somehow genetic, and--more importantly--because of easy access to political machines and the like for the new.

So it's understandable why we have these dynasties, even justifiable for the political parties since it's much easier to "sell" a current candidate who can be linked to a previous one, who can draw gravitas (something George W. Bush was supposed to be the champion of not having, oddly enough) from that relationship. The Kennedys remain the quintessential example in this regard, but the Bushes are starting to catch up, it would seem.

We can do better, I think. It's ridiculous to suggest limiting people from pursing public office--any public office--because of what a relative did, what offices a relative or relatives might have held. But the ideal of the American Republic is that everybody should get a chance to play (which is why there need to be some term limits in Congress), that a professional political class is something we should try to avoid. But the onus is ultimately on the voters. As long as there are enough people dumb enough to get excited at the prospect of a Hillary Clinton or Jeb Bush presidency, we'll continue to have this problem.

The population of the country is huge; it's more than adequate to produce new leaders on a yearly basis who are wholly unrelated to previous leaders. Whenever possible, that's an approach we--as voters--should try to take.

Cheers, all.

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