Among “true” conservatives and heck even many moderates and Independents it is heresy to even think about admitting one could vote for another Bush. But with the prospect of Bush running growing larger and larger as a conservative I have to consider what he brings to the table. And what he brings to the table makes me very interested.
I am not saying I would vote for Bush in the primary. Nor am I saying I would in the general, though if Hillary is the Democratic nominee you bet your sweet but I would pull the lever for anybody but a Clinton.
Bush brings many qualities to the table I can admire. He is a former successful two term Governor of a swing state where his conservative policies were implemented, a policy wonk and probably the brighter of the two Bushs, at least when it comes to policy. Admittedly, Bush has his downsides.
He is a strong supporter of Common Core, a federal education initiative that has somehow united Democrats and Republicans in outrage nationwide over federal achievement standards. The former Governor also strongly backs immigration reform that comes dangerously close to amnesty though Republicans are fooling themselves if they think they can continue to compete in Presidential races without some sort of reform laid out.
Still, I don’t expect to agree with the person I vote for 100% of the time. For as the saying goes, “The only person you agree with 100% of the time is yourself.” Rather, I want to choose the candidate with the best policy successes, ideas and electoral chances. On the first two Bush deserves my consideration. I am undecided on the third. Here is why.
Bush’s tenure as Governor of Florida was incredibly successful. He reformed the state’s educational system, taking on teacher’s unions and expanding school choice. Even in a right to work state taking on the unions is not an easy task.
He also reformed the state’s welfare system, reducing cost. Further, he cut taxes all throughout his tenure and streamlined numerous government services. Critics will note that under Bush the budget increased 47%. True. But the population was booming and more people means higher demand for services. The population boom meant even as Bush was cutting taxes revenue grew (as in more people, more jobs, more revenue). This might be why Bush is echoing the theme “streamlined government” and not smaller government.
His record of policy successes ties into his wonkiness and why I like it. He recently spoke to the Detroit Chamber of Commerce where it was on full display. He talked about expanding education choice, lifting people out of poverty and remaking America into a post-industrial 21st century economy without government doing everything.
Of course, while the above makes him attractive to me his lack of winning elections since 2002 is a worry. A lot remains to determined about his electoral chances. It will be interesting to see how he handles Democratic attacks on his wealth (because Hillary was broke when she left the WH). Younger Republicans likely to run have more recent policy and electoral successes to stand on.
Another factor is that campaigns have changed significantly since 2002. The social media aspect of campaigns is much harder to grasp for older candidates and unlike Romney, Bush would not have the option to learn from past mistakes.
Still, all in all, despite his blemishes and considering his strengths Bush is definitely worth considering. Least, that is how this conservative Republican who fears Clinton 2.0 feels.