With the 2016 campaign for president already underway, you’re likely to hear people say, “ I do not want a third Bush presidency.” In fact, I have heard this argument made many times now, but it is naive to judge a person by his or her last name. Each individual is his or her own person, with a past and ideas that are uniquely his or her own. It would be ignorant to refuse to even consider the idea of supporting Jeb Bush based on the actions of his brother and father.
Many of the same people who criticize the Bushes do not know a thing about Jeb Bush besides the fact that he’s the son and brother of former U.S. presidents. Many UT students may not know that Jeb Bush actually graduated Phi Beta Kappa from UT with a B.A. in Latin American Studies in just two-and-a-half years. If elected president, he would be the first UT alumnus to become president.
Even though Jeb Bush served as governor of Florida, he has substantial ties to Texas, from being born in Midland to growing up in Houston and attending UT. While some may argue that he cannot win the Republican primary, I would argue he is actually the front-runner.
Generally, at least in recent years, the establishment Republican candidate has won the primary (i.e. Romney in 2012, McCain in 2008 and George W. Bush in 2000). I believe there are two main reasons for this.
First, there are simply more mainstream (establishment-supporting) Republicans than tea party or tea party-type Republicans. Polls have shown that the tea party is the minority in the Republican Party — only two in 10 Republicans self-identify as very conservative, according to Gallup.
Second, the establishment candidate will be able to raise the necessary sum to win in the primary and general election. A Republican candidate will likely need at least $150 million to win the primary, Ed Rollins, a former Mike Huckabee adviser, told the Washington Post, and then the general election can cost upward of $1 billion.
Bush can and would likely defeat Hillary Clinton, as long as we realize that Clinton is not invincible, as evidenced by her 2008 primary loss to Barack Obama. Not to mention in the last six open-seat presidential races, where a sitting president was not running, the party that held the presidency has only won once.
Interestingly enough, that one lucky man was George H. W. Bush when he succeeded Ronald Reagan. American voters get tired of a single party holding the presidency for a long time, and eight years is a long time for most people.
What may add the younger Bush to that list is that he can appeal to Hispanic voters since he is fluent in Spanish, and his wife Columba is a first-generation immigrant from Mexico.
George W. Bush won 44 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2004, while Romney won just 27 percent in 2012. Republicans will need to do a lot better with Hispanic voters to win in 2016, and Jeb Bush is in a very good position to do just that.
What also helps Jeb Bush is that he has a message, and you will know exactly what he stands for. He will likely run as a “reform conservative” focusing on making sure everyone has the right to succeed.
Clinton supporters, on the other hand, can’t say quite as much. To win the general election, there has to be a compelling message, such as Obama’s hope and change or George W. Bush’s compassionate conservatism. Clinton does not have anything like that.
Plus, while Clinton may be sitting pretty out of office, as soon as she comes into the spotlight, the Republican Party’s full attention will be on her. Once the Republicans begin to attack, her favorability ratings will decrease as will her chance of winning the presidency (a repeat of 2008).
All these factors will make it exceedingly difficult for Clinton to win 2016 and will give Jeb Bush the upper hand.
Hung is a first-year law student from Brownsville.