Jeb Bush, former Republican governor of Florida, has a strong conservative record, but is weak on key issues. More importantly, however, his last name makes him not just a weak general election candidate, but would make his election as the American president a threat to worldwide democracy.
Mr. Bush consistently advocates for the free market and against cronyism, but he supported the 2008-9 bank bailouts. While during his time as Governor the Florida economy appeared strong, it was helped by the sub-prime housing bubble.
Though he advocates school choice, Bush is perhaps the most prominent supporter of the Common Core standards. It’s difficult to pretend that having federal school standards promotes diversity in education, but that’s what Bush has to do to square his support for both.
Jeb Bush is also known as a dove on immigration. He’s trying to sell it now as being tough, but the reality will be quite different than he projects. His amnesty will come, and all the enforcement provisions he promises will not.
The Bush family is known for campaigning as conservatives but governing as liberals. George H. W. Bush famously campaigned on a “No New Taxes” pledge, breaking it to pursue a “grand bargain” with Democrats. The tax increase happened, but the spending cuts, as anyone could predict, did not. As Michael Tanner wrote in National Review, conservatives are like Charlie Brown to the Democrats’ Lucy:
In 1990, President George H. W. Bush approached the football, famously breaking his “read my lips, no new taxes” pledge, and agreed to a deal that promised $2 in spending cuts for every $1 in taxes. As with Reagan, the tax hikes proved all too real, an almost $60 billion increase by 1992. But once again, not only did the spending cuts fail to materialize, spending actually increased by $128 billion, a $2.10 increase for every $1 in tax hikes. The deficit, of course, increased as well.
George W. Bush campaigned in 2000 as a “compassionate conservative,” but what conservatives didn’t realize was that his compassion was going to include expanding the entitlement state with Medicare Part D and the federal education hegemony with No Child Left Behind.
Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice, shame on you.
Like it or not, Democrats and their media arm were successful in turning the war in Iraq into another Vietnam. Even as American troops fought and died to allow Iraqis their chance to be free from religious despotism, the steady drumbeat of bad news created a memory that will not be quickly erased. Even once the victory there was secured and control was being handed over to a functioning Iraqi government, President Obama arranged not to leave behind a force capable of securing the peace until Iraq could stand against its much more powerful neighbors — and those pesky JV teams.
Jeb Bush carries the burden of defending the war in Iraq, allowing his prospective general election opponent to dwell on something other than the dismal condition into which Barack Obama has fundamentally transformed the country since the end of the war.
But none of that even matters. If Jeb Bush were flawlessly in sync with the conservative base of the Republican Party; if he had a popular plan to eliminate the national debt while privatizing or moving Social Security, Medicaid, Obamacare, and Medicare to the states; if he had designs on eliminating several federal departments while strengthening our national defense for half the cost; he would still not be the right choice.
That is because if the people of foreign nations were to hear that once again, America is run by a Bush (or a Clinton, for that matter), they would rightly assume that our nation is ruled by an oligarchy. Vladimir Putin would not even have to say it. The Islamists could sneer in their Friday prayer and suicide bomb planning sessions that America is corrupt. The socialists in their dorm rooms could bob their heads in unison to say, “Look, in America anyone can rise to power, as long as he is named Bush or Clinton.”
The Bush family champions the spread of democracy in the world. It’s a noble cause, even if at times the world doesn’t seem to share it. Ironically, having another Bush in the White House would make that cause harder for America to champion.
The United States is supposed to be a shining city on a hill, a beacon streaming the light of freedom into a dark world full of tyrants. Electing another Bush — or a Clinton — would allow that light to be scoffed at, ridiculed, and ultimately ignored.