Quite honesty I am having a difficult time understanding Jeb and an even more difficult time trying to get a handle on my feelings about his probable running for the Presidency. I suspect it comes down to Jeb’s core values. What is his motivating ideology? Rand Paul is easy to understand, his core belief is in the constitution and a literal and conservative interpretation of it. Bernie Sanders is easy to understand. He believes in a social democracy. Bernie wants us to be like Sweden. (Does that mean no minorities?) Hillary is also easy to understand, whatever is good for Hillary and her bank account is good for the country. Then there is Jeb, a professional politician perhaps?
Governor Jeb Bush is a two time, immensely successful and popular Governor of Florida. Unlike Scott Walker, he has a Presidential bearing rather than Scott’s demeanor which at times can be reminiscent of Homer Simpson. Unlike Bobby Jindal, he seems to be not only brilliant but also politically savvy. (What was Bobby thinking in going to England and offering up his criticism? I mean, how well did that work out for Mitt Romney and they asked for his opinion!?) Unlike Rick Perry, he comes across as thoughtful rather than just loud. His major successes as Governor of Florida were the economy and education. These are two issues we are currently struggling with as a country. His qualifications are therefore superb.
Nevertheless, I have a hesitation about Jeb. Is there a foundational ethos to Jeb that anchors him or, is it simply rich Texas privilege? I really can’t tell. It is obvious that he has a strong inner belief when he speaks about education and standards. The light of conviction is in his eyes. He believes in what he has accomplished in Florida. Basically, he likes higher standards like those in Common Core for reading, writing and math. He does feel however that education is a state responsibility and that the Federal government needs to butt out. Additionally, he favors options like vouchers and charter schools. A very practical and viable national position on education.
Likewise, his departure from standard conservative doctrine on immigration is founded in a true belief of what he thinks is best. In fact, it seems to go beyond simple belief. His wife hails from Mexico along with her Mother and sister, so he would seem to have a personal interest. That being what it is, he stands firm in his position that there needs to be some legitimacy given to those illegal immigrants which have been here awhile, but he is on board with securing the border first. He has stated he prefers a solution short of citizenship but the option of citizenship could be on the table if it will lead to an equable solution. Quite honestly, I like his positions in both of these areas and have even written in the past about immigration where I came to a very similar conclusion. (Read it here.)
But still, where is his foundation. Is his ethos founded in religion? His religious beliefs are a bit of a mystery. He converted from his Episcopalian upbringing to his wife’s Roman Catholicism some 20 years ago. Was it a conversion for convenience or true belief? He doesn’t wear his own personal beliefs on his sleeve which makes it hard to get a fix on. Yet his speech at Liberty University was phenomenally religious and very forceful in his support for the free PRACTICE of religion. A speech which the Washington Post called an eloquent defense of Christianity. His continued defense of religious rights in light of Hillary’s call for God to change his opinion concerning women’s reproductive rights (that is the gist of what she so stupidly said), confirms his conviction to religious freedom. Kudos to Jeb Bush. But are his views personal or merely academic?
So, once again, what is his core? I seriously have been unable to find anything that would answer that question to my satisfaction. His answers and positions of various subjects and especially the ones which I have mentioned in this article match my own. In fact, it is almost uncanny in some of the similarities. I know the source of my beliefs but I still don’t feel that I have an understanding of the source which drives him.
Nevertheless, in a matchup between Governor Jeb Bush and most of the GOP pack, I would have to select Jeb. In a matchup between Hillary and Jeb, it is Jeb by a mile.
So why am I so reticent to openly and enthusiastically endorse Mr. Bush? Perhaps it is because I suspect him of being a career Republican. A party man before principle. But then some of his actions seem to indicate that may not be true. So, it must simply be his name. I have to consider that I am guilty of not being able to get past my Bush bias; at least not yet. My reluctance seems to be set in his last name and perhaps the fact that he did grow up a wealthy, white, Texas man of privilege. Perhaps I simply need to face the facts that I am biased regarding this particular demographic. But then, I don’t think that I am alone and that is something that Jeb will need to address and overcome.
The GOP debates start in August. I suspect Governor Jeb Bush will be there and his presence will definitely make the debates more interesting. Undoubtedly, his Tea Party opponents will desperately try to brow beat him into untenable conservative positions. (One of the various reasons I am no longer a Republican. Read about it here.) I get the feeling that Jeb will not give in to them. That alone is reason to believe that Governor Jeb Bush would make a good President. That being said, if he manages to triumph in the Primaries, which seems likely, and moves on to a matchup with Hillary, he will definitely get my vote.
Samuel Waen Jensen