Jeb Bush went on a mini media blitz today, and it sure has garnered a lot of attention. While any announcement of his 2016 intentions is way, way premature, he said that he has not ruled out a run for the GOP Presidential nomination in three years. This statement by the former Florida Governor received quite a bit of play on the Twitter and other online sites, with many grassroots conservatives not surprisingly expressing their dismay with Jeb’s statement and urging him to sit on the sidelines. While the vast majority of conservatives do not want Jeb Bush to run for President or any other office, for that matter, I take a different view. If I can have a wish list for the 2016 GOP Presidential election, it would include Jeb Bush seeking the GOP nomination.
Now, before many of you start throwing things through the computer screen at me and thinking I’ve gone all GOPe on you, to borrow a phrase from the current occupant of the Oval Office, let me be clear: I want Jeb Bush to run for the GOP nomination, but I do not want him to win it. This is also with the caveat that I would only like to see this happen if Governor Palin also enters the fray, which I’m sure many of us here would like to see. There are several reasons why I want to see this happen.
The last time we had a true battle for the heart and soul of the GOP was during the election cycles of 1976 and 1980. 1976 saw the epic primary battle between Governor Ronald Reagan and President Gerald Ford. Reagan was the conservative insurgent taking on the establishment backed incumbent, albeit unelected, President. The Gipper fought nearly insurmountable odds, and nearly pulled off the stunning upset, but came up a few delegates short. He made another run for it in 1980, and again took on establishment candidates such as George HW Bush, and stalking horses such as Phil Crane to win the nomination and the Presidency. The grassroots were in control of the party. But the establishment never went away, and since Reagan left office in 1989, the GOPe has again asserted themselves back into the leadership of the GOP. Our most recent GOP Presidents increased taxes and grew government to levels not seen since LBJ.
The GOP again has an identity crisis- very similar to the one they had in the mid 1970s. What kind of party are they going to be? The party that Reagan envisioned then and Governor Palin envisions now, where the relationship between man and government is what the Founding Fathers espoused, or will it be the party of the permanent political class and go along to get along, not rock the boat, and grow government only a little bit slower than the Democrats? We want it to return to Reagan’s vision, while the GOPe is happy with the status quo. A battle between the two factions is here, and the only way to settle it is to have it out on the biggest political stage.
So, this is where 2016 comes in, and why I want Jeb Bush to run. The only way to defeat the establishment is to beat the top dog, not one of their proxies. We won’t defeat the establishment if we beat Chris Christie or Rob Portman next time around. There is no greater symbol of the GOP establishment than the Bush family. Jeb is next in line for the family to make a Presidential run. And, I would make the argument that Governor Palin is the political figure most identified with the grassroots conservative movement. A battle between these two sides, and between the leaders of those two sides, is just what the GOP needs at this time.
A contest such as this will be good on so many levels, the least of which would be for a very compelling story. GOP voters would have a choice in a way they have not had since 1976 and 1980. The GOPe will have their guy. And so will we. What has been the biggest complaint among conservatives the past few Presidential elections? The field is no good and we have no one we can vote FOR. We only get to choose the one who sucks the least. Well, in a Palin vs Bush match-up, conservatives will have someone to be enthusiastic about for the first time in three decades. Any conservative who says we don’t have a choice in this scenario probably was never a true conservative to begin with.
This brings us to another very important point. A Palin v Bush match-up could very well clear the rest of the field, at least figuratively. Think about it- if those two are in the race, will anyone care if Rick Santorum is serving up flapjacks at a diner in Waterloo or if Bobby Jindal is doing a meet and greet at the American Legion in Council Bluffs? I don’t think so, either. This will have the effect of showing what every single GOP primary voter in the country is made of. Everyone will have to choose sides and there will be nowhere to hide. If anyone sides with Bush over Palin and before that claimed to be grassroots- well, they really never were. Or, they simply lost their spine. And those that do side with Palin- well, that’s what our army will look like. To quote a song from the old radical leftist folk group the Weavers, during the primary battle we’ll all be asking “which side are you on?”
One last thing on all this- this is in no way a prediction for 2016. It is only what I would like to see happen. I have no idea what either of them are going to do, especially Governor Palin. But, I do think this is something that is not only needed for the GOP and conservative movement, but can end up being the best thing for the country.