3 Reasons Why Republicans Should Keep an Open Mind about Jeb

After months of Hamlet-like vacillation, John Ellis (Jeb) Bush decides to join the 2016 Presidential race. The leader among all of the declared and undeclared Republican presidential candidates, Bush offers something most of the candidates do not–executive experience running a state that the GOP must win in order to win the 2016 election. Still though, many Republicans remain skeptical of Mr. Bush, some flatly refusing to vote for “another Bush.” Here are 3 reasons why Republicans should keep an open mind about the Jeb Bush candidacy.


Reason One: Jeb Bush Joins the Race Enjoying Advantages the Other Candidates Envy

Martin O’Malley, Carly Fiorina, and Ben Carson share a common first hurdle to a successful White House bid–earning widespread name recognition. For some candidates, their relative obscurity serves them well: Senator Marco Rubio, for example, can define himself on his own terms. Martin O’Malley, on the other hand, struggles to get any attention at all. For Jeb Bush, name recognition cuts both ways: on the one hand, Bush enjoys the benefits of belonging to a respected political family that Americans feel as if they know. After all, the only Republicans to win the White House since Ronald Reagan were Bushes. Still, though,Jeb must make the case that he is his own man, worthy of the job on his own merits, not just because of his last name. That task represents an opportunity similar to Senator Rubio’s.


Being from such a successful political family brings with it two more important advantages–networking and money. Leading up to his announcement, Bush has been cobbling together an enviable campaign team of big names like Danny Diaz, Heather Larrison, and Alex Lundry. Many of these people worked on Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign and worked for George W. Bush as well.


Heather Larrison leads Bush’s dynamic fundraising team that has been greatly outpacing his rivals’. Mr. Rubio, also from Florida, has been struggling to build his fundraising base upon Florida donors, because Bush’s influence in the state is deeper and wider-reaching. In fact, whichever candidate performs worse in Florida’s winner take all primary will likely end his White House bid immediately thereafter.


Name recognition, deep political networks and strong fundraising abilities are important aspects to running a winning campaign.


Reason Two: America Values Individual Accomplishment More than Bloodlines

By far, the most braindead “argument” against a Jeb Bush presidential run (and in fairness, against Hillary Clinton as well) is “Not Another Bush.” This reticence to support Mr. Bush purely based on his last name indicates immaturity and irrational thinking. For those of us who have siblings, would it be fair to say that knowing one of you is the same as knowing the other? Do you think the same as your siblings on all matters? Do you think the same as your father on all matters? Most matters?


Most bothersome about the “Not Another Bush” line, is that it runs contrary to America’s greatest ideal, that which sets us apart from our European kin: America values the individual more than the bloodline. And we should continue to do so. Betraying that idea betrays the notion that anyone can “make it” in America if he or she just works hard and plays by the rules.


By this standard, Jeb Bush has earned his right to be taken seriously along with the other candidates because he governed Florida successfully and conservatively. At present, he appears to be an upstanding man with a good family (all families face challenges, of course). He holds his own policy positions that may vary from his brother and father, and still fall within the conservative spectrum. On these elements should he be judged, not on his family lineage.


Reason Three: Jeb Bush Falls within the GOP Mainstream

The 2016 GOP candidate will surely need the support from the broadest coalitions of the conservative movement. He or she will need to speak most of all to social conservatives, economic conservatives, and defense-minded conservatives. On the issues most important to these constituencies, Jeb Bush falls within the mainstream. Unlike George Pataki, Bush holds a consistent record opposing abortion. Unlike Mike Huckabee, Bush does not need to defend himself against allegations of reliance on federal funds during his governorship. Unlike Rand Paul, Bush speaks clearly about reinstating a forward-leaning foreign policy.


Furthermore, for Bush’s conservative bona fides, he strikes a moderate tone–an important ingredient for any GOP candidate to win the general election.


Without a doubt, Mr. Bush faces a list of challenges and formidable candidates in his 2016 bid. While he leads the pack in most polls, his lead wanes–most notably, in Florida. Still, though, Bush represents a serious candidate in whom Republicans can take pride. A welcome addition to the large field of candidates, Jeb Bush deserves serious consideration in his own right.

One thought on “3 Reasons Why Republicans Should Keep an Open Mind about Jeb”

  1. I agree with everything you’ve written here and I also think that we Republicans should not dismiss Jeb Bush. He’s more than qualified and when one hears him speak, he is quite impressive. However I have heard many thoughtful Republican voters say that Jeb Bush just cannot win due to his negative association with his brother after careful consideration.

    In other words, I have heard many Republican voters conclude that despite all the good qualifications and positives of Jeb, they just don’t think Jeb can win due to the almost universally mocked and negative impression of his brother. And so they are strictly speaking on whether-Jeb-can-win strategy question, not some outright thoughtless dismissal. (Which I’ve heard too) And I think we would all agree that we want the next candidate to be politically viable and winnable. Whether this is fair to Jeb is unfortunately irrelevant since it is the reality. Plus since we’ve had 2 Bushes already, I think the party is truly looking for a fresh face and for the next generation of leaders rather than the continuation of more of the same family.

    Now as you know, I am probably the biggest George W. Bush fan that there is. I supported him and argued with strangers in Chicago of all places, defending Bush during the darkest days of the Iraq War in 2005 & 6, I have 2 copies of his memoirs, I have a bust of Bush sitting on my bookcase, I have his book that he wrote about his father, I have the books written by Laura Bush & members of his administration that I’ve read and are sitting on my bookcase, I had a Bush symbol on my old car until I just sold it, I have Bush posters, Bush mugs, I am constructing a Bush Tribute website, I donated to his Presidential museum, went to his museum in Dallas, I’ve read Decision Points to my infant and toddler kids, and have played Bush speeches to them as well. My wife is convinced that I will cry if I ever got to meet him in person. When a Democrat colleague asked who I would make president if I could wave a magic wand. And my answer was George W. Bush for a third term. And so this is a long way of saying that obviously I am not bothered by Jeb Bush’s family lineage. Quite the opposite of most folks, I only wish that Jeb was more and more like his brother.

    Having said all that, I also have sympathy with those GOP voters who want to win and conclude that Jeb’s last name will hurt him in the election. The name recognition is not a good name recognition as you wrote that it can be a double edged sword. And all the money he’s raised won’t mean anything in the general election when the voters are constantly reminded of Jeb’s brother due to the close association. Whether that’s fair or not really doesn’t matter since it is reality for the general voting public. Another consequence of Bush not fighting back in his second term.

    And although Jeb is his own person of course, there is a natural association one does with a sibling or a close friend. For example when Eli Manning was getting ready to be drafted, of course his stock was sky-high due to the assumption that Eli would be at least somewhat good due to the high reputation of his brother Peyton despite Eli being his own person and being obviously different than his older brother. I experienced this myself when I was trying to get a job in my current state despite having no experience here. However my younger sister, who is in the same profession, has an outstanding reputation. It was due to that reputation that transferred over to me that helped me get this current job even though I am my own person of course. But the assumption/association of that family quality is understandable to a large degree. Eli has won 2 Super Bowls and has remained a franchise quarterback with the New York Giants for over a decade, certainly replicating (if not surpassing) his older brother Peyton’s reputation. Hopefully without bragging in the last 3 years, I have hopefully also done enough quality work and achieved those certain results for people to look back at and conclude that they were right to graft on my sister’s quality onto myself. And so I don’t blame those voters who conflate Jeb with W. It’s not totally fair but there is certainly merit in that conclusion. And ultimately whether one should conflate the two is irrelevant since the voters will make that (unfortunate) negative association.

    And so I think I am agreeing with your article, I’m just stating it in my own words in a different way. Yes people should keep an open mind about Jeb and not just dismiss him outright. Jeb deserves out attention, respect, and careful consideration and he brings tremendous positive qualities to the table. I agree that we should welcome him and open our arms rather than just shut him out immediately.

    However in the long run, Jeb does have the ultimate challenge of being considered a W clone. The only difference may be that he’s from Florida and speaks Spanish. And although W won twice, he certainly wouldn’t win today. And with people like Rubio, Fiorina, and Walker among others, we have enough fresh, exciting faces rather than an unfairly depicted (but ultimately will be depicted) as a George W Bush retread. That’s my take on Jeb. Any thoughts are always welcome of course.


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