Political royalty, but no path to victory

Reuters photo by Jonathan Ernst.

Reuters photo by Jonathan Ernst.

So, Jeb Bush is running for president.

I know, I know. He said he was “actively exploring” a run for president, and as such would be setting up an “exploratory committee” to do that exploring, so there is a possibility that he may do his due diligence and find it isn’t a good idea to run.

I trust, though, that like the great explorers of old, he will find what he is looking for. After all, who was the last person to set up an exploratory committee for president who did not ultimately come to the conclusion that the American people were clamoring for their leadership?

That sound you hear is crickets loudly chirping.

With Hillary Clinton currently occupying the mantle of Democratic nominee in waiting, we are faced with the horrifying possibility of seeing a 2016 presidential contest be a titanic struggle of political royalty. Bush 3.0 v. Clinton 2.0. Aristocracy: The Next Generation.

Are there any descendants of John Adams who want to make a go at this? It was a long time ago, but we had John and his son John Quincy. Or how about the Harrisons? William Henry and his grandson Benjamin occupied the White House, and they have to have some progeny left in this country. Somebody? Anybody?

There are 320 million people in this country, and Bush v. Clinton again? Who wants to take bets whether 2024 will see George P. Bush face off against Chelsea Clinton. You laugh now, but save this column and dust it off. You never know.

Fortunately for us, though, I can’t fathom any realistic scenario in which Jeb Bush is the Republican nominee. And while we are at it, Hillary Clinton is going to have many of the same problems she had in 2008 if a progressive who sets the hearts of the grassroots aflutter were to run against her. You’re move, Liz Warren.

But back to Jeb. Can somebody tell me what the argument for his candidacy is?

Let’s say you want a somewhat moderate, establishment figure who you believe can compete for centrist voters in a general election. Let’s be honest, Chris Christie is a much better option. He’s more conservative than Jeb is, can raise more money, appeals to the middle better, and has a gruff style that appeals to many people across all parties.

Let’s say you want a deeply conservative, combative, ideologically pure candidate. Well, in that instance, you’ll have a number of people to pick from, probably Ted Cruz or Rick Perry, or just anyone from the state of Texas, I suppose.

Maybe you want a movement guy who took on entrenched interests and actually won. Perhaps a person with executive experience. Scott Walker is your guy in that case. A midwestern, blue-collar, reform-minded governor who almost single-handedly brought labor unions to their knees? Yes, please.

Let’s say you want a technocratic governor with demonstrated reforms and broad appeal. In that case, Bobby Jindal is staring you in the face, and he has a much better story to tell and would represent a real fresh face for the GOP.

Are you an intensely socially conservative human being who believes the fight needs to be brought to the left on issues of culture and society? I don’t think anyone in the primary would crowd out Rick Santorum here.

So what is Jeb’s constituency? Disaffected liberal-establishment Republicans? Is there a group that is currently despised more by the conservative grassroots than that particular combination? You tell me if that is a large, powerful force in the Republican Party.

I suppose a lot can change from today to the day the Republicans nominate their candidate, but unless something drastic happens, Jeb Bush will not be representing the Republican Party in the election of 2016.

So, I guess that means we are all spared one more round of Bushes and Clintons. Hey, a guy can hope, right?

Matthew Gagnon

About Matthew Gagnon

Matthew Gagnon, of Yarmouth, is the Chief Executive Officer of the Maine Heritage Policy Center, a free market policy think tank based in Portland. Prior to Maine Heritage, he served as a senior strategist for the Republican Governors Association in Washington, D.C. Originally from Hampden, he has been involved with Maine politics for more than a decade.