Jeb Bush – The GOP’s best hope of a 2016 victory

The 2016 Presidential Election may seem a long way off, but speculation is already building as to who will run for the two main parties. For the Democrats, it would appear to be a one-horse race with Hillary Clinton the overwhelming favourite. However, the Republican nomination is much more open, with a variety of possible candidates having been touted. Although New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is still seen as a likely contender, recent weeks have seen a new figure rise to the fore: former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, the son and brother of two former presidents. Having previously ruled out running in past elections before speculation was allowed to gather, now seems to be the time for Governor Bush. The question is, do the GOP want him?

I wholeheartedly believe that Jeb Bush would make a fantastic president. A moderate Republican, he even has some Democrat admirers due to his hugely successful tenure as Florida Governor and would therefore be able to reach out to swing voters and independents. His appeals to the centre ground have been highlighted in the past week, after he made a series of comments advocating a more liberal immigration policy. I can’t say that I agree with all of his rhetoric, particularly his view that illegal immigration is not a felony but ‘an act of love,’ but yet these are forgiveable sins, and could indeed help Governor Bush shore up support amongst minority groups. The last two elections have proven that the GOP has a serious problem gaining votes from the Hispanic and African-American communities, but yet it shouldn’t be this way; after all, the Republicans were traditionally the party of civil rights, whilst America’s Hispanic community is largely Catholic and socially conservative.

The main reason why many people dismiss Jeb Bush’s chances is his family name. However, this could in fact work in his favour. Despite only serving one term as president, his father George HW Bush is a popular elder statesman, whilst the US people are starting to reassess George W Bush’s legacy, with a recent poll suggesting that he is the second most admired man in the USA, ahead of Bill Clinton. Therefore, whilst it is vital that Jeb successfully proves that he is his own man, Hillary Clinton will also have to separate her candidacy from her husband’s presidency. A much more realistic concern is that a Bush v Clinton race would create a sense of apathy and disillusionment amongst the US people tired of the same old family dynasties, but yet I reckon this can be avoided as long as both candidates run fresh and effective campaigns.

Many on the right wing of the Republican Party fear that Jeb Bush is not sufficiently conservative to be their man in 2016, and whilst I understand some of their concerns they also have to think about which scenario they would prefer; a Jeb Bush presidency, or Hillary Clinton in the White House as a result of the GOP fielding an unelectable candidate. The Tea Party may be successfully mobilising conservative support, but running on an uncompromisingly hard-right platform in 2016 will not go down well with minorities, swing voters and independents and instead will simply deliver the presidency to the Democrats for a third term. If Jeb Bush could run the USA in the same way that he ran Florida, I believe the fears of the Tea Party would soon disappear, as they would realise that he is a conservative after all.

George Reeves

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