Some people sighed a big sigh this last week: a few with a grateful, “at long last” sense of relief; others with all the hopefulness that Sisyphus must’ve felt each time he put shoulder to boulder at the bottom of the mountain, and started rolling his fated rock up the slope again.
This last week, Jeb Bush, former governor of the State of Florida — son of a president, brother to a president — announced on Facebook that he is “exploring” a 2016 run for the Republican nomination for the presidency.
I have mixed feelings, to say the least.
There’s the whole dynastic problem. America, we all know in our hearts of hearts, shouldn’t be a dynastic nation. A lot of people take umbrage at the very idea. Another Bush? Or, is Jeb the cost of finding a candidate to beat Hillary . . . who has her own dynastic baggage?
After all, it is the case that Hillary Clinton would not be a good president. And it may be that Jeb could whip up enough support for his candidacy that he could beat her in an open contest. Though it does seem like a long shot. The Bush family has its own baggage — but does have name recognition. He is not a dummy — some call him “the smart Bush” — and he has his own record to stand upon. He’s a likable and sober gentleman. America could do worse. And has. (Including with the same last name.)
But the big story, here, is to watch those with their hands on the levers of power scramble to keep out real challengers.
The trouble with both Hillary and Jeb is that they are insiders. They represent where the leadership of both parties wants its representatives and front-men (and -women) to go: to the putative “center.”
By which they really mean: don’t disturb the bailout system in American finance or the Pentagon procurement system for the military-industrial complex.
While it might be fun to contemplate Bill Clinton as the First Gentleman, or pick at the two or three issues over which Gov. Bush seems not very conservative at all (his immigration policy, which I almost like, and his support for Common Core, which I find deeply troubling), the truth is that both have access to a lot of entrenched power and loose money. Both Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton enjoy incumbent-like advantages.
If the near future does sport a Clinton-Bush battle for the presidency, we can be sure of only one thing: status quo vs. status quo.
For I was serious, earlier. For the political mavens and donors who really determine entrenched power in America, the bailout economy and the military-industrial complex are what it’s all about. Keeping bankers rich (making sure of profits, and never losses) and contractors to government operations with a constant cash flow is more important than anything else. That’s the basis of their world view. Indeed, all of politics seems to be the tail that wags their dogged desire for lossless pursuit of profit.
I’ve nothing against profit, mind you. But I can see why the Occupier movement erupted. And the Tea Party. To witness insiders siphoning off wealth from the imperial center of Washington, D.C., is not heartening to those who believe in the justice of freedom, of free markets. The American economy IS NOT FREE ENTERPRISE. We live in a plutocratic oligarchy that has leveraged the forms of a democratic republic for the advantage of the advantaged classes.
There is no subsidy they won’t support, no war they won’t demand. All to keep money flowing.
Hillary Clinton is a fine representative of the Democratic Party version of this money-grubbing oligarchy. Jeb Bush would serve well as the Republican puppet in the same enterprise. He seems no more likely than Hillary as the leader we could use to help us unbuild the insider-centric Leviathan.
I wish him the best of luck exploring a possible future. I’m sure he could figure out a useful way to spend his time, for the benefit of the country. I just don’t think it should be as a Commander in Chief.
If Republicans want to retain some level of relevance, it must be as the Opposition Party — opposing the plutocracy, the oligarchic aspects of modern pseudo-democratic, faux-republican, neo-imperialist dirigisme.
Return to your Goldwater roots, Republicans. Oppose the crony capitalism of the LBJ-Nixon-Carter-Bush-Clinton-Bush-Obama line.
If you don’t, you will be repudiated by Americans, who are beginning to see the light, beginning to demand real leadership. Not the usual, insider-approved false messiahs such as John McCain, Mitt Romney, and, yes, Jeb Bush.
Paul Jacob, December 21, 2014
This column first appeared at Townhall.com.