Jeb Bush, Mr. Status Quo

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Rodney King, whose beating at the hands of the LAPD in 1991 sparked several days of bloody rioting, is perhaps best remembered for his oft-quoted plea for everyone to just “get along” with each other. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in all but name only, has taken King’s plea to heart.

During a question and answer session last week in New Hampshire, Bush burnished his credentials as the status quo candidate, when he lamented the fact that his colleagues currently in the Senate were failing to just get along with their Democratic counterparts, by holding up the confirmation of Loretta Lynch as Attorney General for purely “partisan” reasons. He then joined with President Barack Obama in urging the Senate to quickly confirm Lynch, notwithstanding that she is a clone of Eric Holder in terms of outlook, priorities and policies. Such a move is desirable, Bush lectured, because the President – any president – is entitled to have “his team” in place, no matter how good or bad its members may be.

The world view that Bush exhibited in this exchange reflects the typical, go-along-to-get-along attitude with which many Republican lawmakers and presidents approach tough political issues. It is this perspective –which values the maintenance of the status quo and the avoidance of confrontation above all else — that accounts largely for the decades-long growth of big government regardless of which major party wields the levers of power.

Apparently, the fact that at least some GOP senators might be opposing Lynch for substantive – as opposed to “partisan” – reasons, escaped Bush’s analysis of the situation; that, or he simply chose to overlook the possibility in order to make his political point. Either way, his comments reflect an important but not unanticipated blind spot in the credentials of a candidate who, on paper at least, is well-qualified to be considered a front-runner in the Republican presidential field.

Bush’s unquestioning support of the President’s “right” to select his own team was his most recent endorsement of Establishment Rule in the campaign thus far, but hardly the only such signal. For example, Bush glibly dismisses the concerns of conservatives about the overreach of federal bureaucrats through Common Core, as “conspiracy theories.” Bush criticizes opponents of Common Core even as he heaps praise on the Obama Administration for “providing carrots and sticks” to pressure states to adopt the standards; a tactic he finds “appropriate.” Even on the issue of climate change, where every day more data suggests it is little more than a left-wing fraud, Bush echoed Obama when, also last week in the Granite State, he suggested, “we need to work with the rest of the world to negotiate a way to reduce carbon emissions.”

While these moderate-to-left policy positions of Bush are concerning, even more so is the mounting evidence of why and how Jeb would simply continue the status quo in Washington. The ideas espoused by this third Bush appear less like sincerely-held beliefs than a general “deference,” as he calls it, to the Establishment in Washington. It is a constant refrain to trust in the solutions provided via the “system,” in which we, as mere citizens, only need to be along for the ride regardless of individual concerns. Fundamentally, it is an attitude indicative of a politician driven more by the prevailing “wisdom” of the elitist collective, than a sincere dedication to the Constitution and individual liberty.

If we are to break the stagnation of new ideas in Washington, and finally realize the true potential for economic and personal freedom in this country (as envisioned centuries ago by our Founding Fathers), we must seize 2016 as an opportunity to find and elevate the same disruptors in politics, as those who have transformed today’s consumer and technology marketplaces. In other words, seek out and support politicians unafraid to rock the boat, cast aside the broken system of partisan “deference,” and for once, listen to political consumers — that is, the voters — who have legitimate concerns about the direction America has taken in recent decades, especially during these past, sorry six years.

Jeb Bush is no Tesla, Uber, or Netflix. He is the bailed-out auto manufacturer; the taxi cartel; the cable company. He is the champion of the status quo – a symbol not of what can be, but of what has been. Republican voters and contributors in particular ought to remind Bush that opposing Barack Obama is something we do not because of partisanship, but because of principle. The 2016 GOP nominee must be wrought of that mettle.

Bob Barr
Bob Barr is a former Congressman who represented the citizens of Georgia’s 7th Congressional District in the US House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003. Bob heads Liberty Guard, a non-profit and non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting individual liberty.