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 Politics Archive 2015

The Compassionate Conservative-Jeb takes a page from big brother George's playbook
by Nathan'ette Burdine: July 3, 2015 

Jeb Bush knows that in order to have a chance at becoming the next president of the United States then he must get away from the stereotypical image of conservatives as being aloof and distant.

So it comes as no surprise that he has taken a page from his big brother George’s playbook on running for president, and has decided to run as a compassionate conservative who will be a battling axe for minorities, the poor, and women.

In his first official presidential campaign video, Jeb Bush said that
he sought to make the country stronger by having an inclusive government and promoting the policies that he did during his tenure as the governor of Florida.

Bush is quoted in the video as saying, “The barriers, right now, on people rising up is the great challenge of our time. So many people could do so much better if we fix a few things. My core beliefs start with the premise that the most vulnerable in our society should be in the front of the line, not the back.”

The problem Bush faces is that the public’s view of him has been set. And the image the public has of him is not that of a compassionate conservative.

To many, Bush is an uncompassionate, elitist who’s benefitting from his family’s political legacy. Bush is the grandson (Prescott Bush) of a former U.S. Senator, the son of a former president (George H.W. Bush), and the brother of a former president (George W. Bush Jr.).

Jeb Bush’s family’s legacy in American politics gives him access to opportunities, like running for governor and now president, that the common Joe/Jane do not have.

This would not be an issue if it weren’t for the far-right positions Jeb Bush has taken on women and minority issues, his role in the 2000 Presidential Election, and support for the 2003 Iraq War.

During his second term as the governor of Florida, Bush acted on his personal belief that single women should be “public shamed” in order to stop them from having babies out of wedlock.

Bush signed into law the “Scarlet Letter” act. The “Scarlet Letter” law was named after Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter.

The law required single mothers, who put their children up for adoption, to publish the name of all of their sexual partners.

Florida’s state court ruled the law unconstitutional and many of the law’s supporters quickly backtracked, forcing Bush to support a repeal of the law.

Last month, Bush was asked if his views of the law remain the same. He responded that his beliefs have “evolved,” but that his central belief about traditional families and the purpose of the law remain the same.

Benjy Sarlin of MSNBC quoted Bush as saying, “My views have evolved overtime, but my views about the importance of dads being involved in the lives of children hasn’t changed at all. In fact, since 1995…this book [Profiles of Character] was a book about cultural indicators [and] the country has moved in the wrong direction. We have a 40-plus percent out-of-wedlock birth rate.”

Basically, the former governor is saying that the percentage of children born to single parents would have been lower if the country had followed his lead and had a Scarlett Letter Law that allowed the “public shaming” of the mother.

The belief that the woman is to blame for “society’s ills” is a belief that many associate with the Republican Party.

And fail laws like Bush’s “Scarlet Letter” law, former Rep. Todd Akins’ forcible rape comment, and the Republican State Legislatures push to criminalize abortions have resulted in the Republican Party being known as the party that has a “War on Women.”

The belief that the Republican Party has a “War on Women” has resulted in the Republicans losing the female vote during the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections.

The loss of the female vote, along with minority votes, has resulted in the GOP losing both presidential elections.

And currently, Bush’s appeal in the minority communities, specifically the black American community, is no better than what it is with women.

Just as he did with women, Bush put actions behind his words when it came time to dealing with issues relating to black Americans.

It’s just that the black American community did not view Bush’s actions and words as beneficial.

After his first run for governor of Florida in 1994, Bush told reporters that he wasn’t going to do anything for black Americans.

The comment was one of the reasons why Bush lost a very close race to then Gov. Lawton Chiles.

After he lost the 1994 governor race, Bush tried to make amends during his second run by campaigning in largely populated black communities.

The plan worked and he won 14% of the black vote. However, the work that he did in galvanizing black voters was soon negated by his decision to use executive order in order to end state programs put in place to help minority communities.

And just as he did with his recent comment about the Scarlett Letter Law and the increase in single parent homes, Bush boasted that his decision to take a hard line stance on minority issues were right.

Bush told reporters that his decision to end affirmative action, particular at state run universities and colleges, increased the number of minority students.

Politi Fact rated Bush’s claim as “mostly false” and attributed the increase of minority students at state run universities and colleges to other factors such as population increase and scholarships, like the Bright Futures Program.

Unfortunately for Jeb Bush, his problems with black voters extend beyond his comment and decision to end affirmative action to the 2000 Presidential Election.

Bush has been unsuccessful in convincing the public that he did not have his then Secretary of State Katherine Harris to scrub the voter rolls in order to decrease the number of minority voters in the 2000 Presidential Election.

It must be noted that the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights did not find any evidence of wrongdoing on Bush or Harris’ part.

The Commission did state that a “lack of leadership” led to the disenfranchisement of black voters, and that the problem could have been solved if Bush and Harris did not lead from behind.

But despite the Commission’s report vindicating Bush and Harris of any purposeful wrongdoing, the public has not been so forgiving.

After Bush announced that he was forming a presidential exploratory committee back in January, he received several non-supportive comments about his possible run for the White House.

Hayden Green was one of the people who commented on Twitter and cited the 2000 Florida Presidential Election as the reason why he believes Jeb Bush should stand on the sidelines in all presidential races.

Hayden Green tweeted, “@Jeb Bush the people’s trust in you might be a little skewed after the 2000 election...We saw what happened with the ballots in Florida.”

Florida was the deciding state in the 2000 Bush-Gore race.  The scrubbing of the voter rolls, use of the now infamous chad ballots, and the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in favor of George W. Bush on the recount were too much for the public to push under the rug and say that it was coincidental that the state George W. Bush needed to win is the same state that his brother, Jeb Bush, was the governor of.

The belief that the Bush brothers are corrupt was cemented after the 2003 Iraq War began.

In 2006, Jeb Bush made it clear that he supported his brother George W. Bush’s decision to send American troops into Iraq; despite the evidence contradicting the former president’s claim for going into the country.

Politi Fact quoted Jeb Bush as saying, “It is very important that we stay the course, that we provide support for these incredible people that are doing such a service for liberty around the world and protecting our freedoms here.”

The American public differs with the Bush brothers on Iraq.  A CBS News/New York Times poll in 2014 showed that 75% of those polled believed the country should not have gone to war with Iraq in 2003 compared to 18% who believed the country should have gone to war with Iraq.

The poll results also showed that over 60% of Republicans, Democrats, and Independents believed that George W. Bush made the wrong decision to go to war with Iraq.

The Iraq War is one of the reasons why the Republicans lost two presidential elections, and the Iraq War will be one of the factors determining whether Jeb Bush gets out of the Republican Primary.

Bush knows this and it is why he tried in May of this year to two-step his way out of the bind he placed himself in when he again said that he would have gone into Iraq.

Jeb Bush’s explanation that he misunderstood the question went nowhere, and it spurred questions about whether a Jeb Bush presidency will be George W. Bush’s third term.

It’s no doubt that Jeb Bush has dug himself into a hole, and the chances of him successfully selling himself to voters as a compassionate conservative are slim to none.

Bush’s past paints the image of a man who is inconsiderate, selfish, and who only has time for individuals who he can get something out of.

It’s an image that past GOP Presidential Nominee Mitt Romney could not shake after his 47% comment.

And like Romney, it is a view that many have of Bush and is why it is going to take a miracle for him to convince the public that he is a compassionate conservative.

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