For me, blog posts like this are only interesting if I make a solid prediction, backed by the evidence I see, that can then be verified in the future to show whether I’m brilliant and insightful or ignorant and contemptible. Here’s today’s prediction: there is essentially no way that Jeb Bush can become president of the United States. I am admittedly leaving a tiny bit of room for possibility, but it’s only under a very specific set of circumstances which I will lay out.
The main reason Bush will never win the election has been covered in so many articles about his inevitable run for the presidency: Americans hate dynasties. Despite the fact that the egalitarian American dream of hardest-workers-always-rise-to-the-top has taken such a beating with the current historic levels of wealth inequality and moneyed influence in Washington, Americans still believe deeply that nobody deserves wealth or power based on their family of birth. Jeb Bush may be the most qualified of the viable Republican candidates, and have somewhat of a fair claim to being worthy of becoming president based on his own talents and efforts, apart from his family name. But a father and two of his sons being president of the most powerful nation on Earth stinks of something undemocratic going on somewhere under the surface, and Americans will inherently reject it like lungs coughing up water.
And then of course there’s the fact of Jeb being the brother of a president that almost nobody remembers fondly. Republicans pine for the days of Reagan, not Bush (either one). Nobody would think of asking George W to campaign for them. I’m sure Jeb would not be a second coming of George W, but there are so many parts of those years and that presidency that we have filed away in the back of our minds that would be dredged up by association, and it would weigh Jeb down immensely.
My final reason Jeb Bush will never win is because so much of the draw of being a Republican in this election is the sense of freshness they can bring, and being a Bush inherently makes him lack freshness. Change and hope were of course Obama’s watchwords in 2008, but really that’s what everyone is looking for after 8 years of one president having been in office. I personally think Obama has been a fantastic president, but I can see a glimmer of hope of possibility in some areas that have been intractable with him as president, just by the fact of there being someone different in office. Jeb can’t bring freshness. Hillary wouldn’t have much to offer herself if she didn’t have the feature of potentially being the first female president of the United States.
There is precisely one narrow scenario I see where Jeb can win the presidency. If all of his Republican opponents run quite far to the right of him and refuse to speak reasonably about issues where the majority of Americans are aligned (aspects of immigration, gay marriage, defense spending), he could win the Republican primary. If that happens and he makes it to the general election, and then some significant new campaign-melting piece of dirt came up on Hillary, he could win. But only in that scenario. This is my prediction.