Bush vs Clinton dynasty face-off in 2016 election

The entry of Jeb Bush into the US election sets the stage for a Bush-Clinton presidential race.

Bush vs Clinton dynasty face-off in 2016 election

World Bulletin / News Desk

The prospects of another Bush-Clinton presidential face-off were significantly heightened Monday when Jeb Bush joined former first lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in seeking America’s top office.

But questions linger about America's readiness to accept a candidate from either political dynasty. 

The son of President George Herbert Walker Bush and brother to George W. Bush, the former Florida governor declared his candidacy at a campaign kickoff event in Miami, but absent were both of those whose footsteps Bush is seeking to follow to the Oval Office.

Barbara Kellerman, faculty at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School, said that while she "had very little doubt" that the senior Bush would have attended if his health were not in question, George W. Bush’s absence was far from a mystery.

"With regard to the brother, he is of course the albatross, and I think George W. understands that perfectly well. He will not be very much in evidence in this campaign," she said.

But also missing, and perhaps conspicuously more so, was the candidate’s surname from his campaign logo, which simply reads “Jeb!”

In omitting his last name from such a key piece of his presidential bid, Bush may have been seeking to dodge the traditional distrust that Americans have for dynastic politics.

And to be sure, the Bush family has certainly carved out a unique space within American politics.

Noting not only the presence of two presidents and one aspiring president in the Bush family, but other powerful politicians including a senator and state officials, Russ Baker, the author of Family of Secrets: The Bush Dynasty, The Powerful Forces That Put it in the White House, and What Their Influence Means for America, said that the Bushes constitute one of the most significant American political families.

"This is an astonishing level of influence over the trajectory of a country. It’s almost never been seen before, and it is a remarkable phenomenon," Baker said. "The Bush family does represent the interests of the moneyed elites, and there’s a very strong motivation to keep them circulating and serving those interests."

While the U.S. has a long history of political families holding the upper echelons of power -- going back as far as the second president, John Adams, and his son John Quincy Adams, the sixth commander-in-chief -- there has always been a certain level of trepidation about the nepotistic trend in a country that has remained mindful that it was created to throw off the yoke of monarchy.

"The American people are actually quite resistant to the idea of two political dynasties going against each other in 2016," Kellerman said, but added, "For all the resistance to the dynasty, Jeb Bush does convey the impression of being a mature, sane adult in whose hands the country would probably be reasonably safe no matter what your political ideology, and I would say the same about Hillary Clinton."

The two candidates could not, however, have more different paths to their party’s nomination.

Bush finds himself in a virtual dead heat with a half-dozen fellow Republican candidates, according to an average of recent opinion polls compiled by Real Clear Politics.

That’s not the case for Clinton, who announced her bid in April, and has been followed by a relative trickle of announcements.

She has pulled away from the comparatively meager field of Democrats, averaging a nearly 50-point lead over her closest competitors, according to the political news website.

Despite the stark differences in their current partisan races, the fact that Bush and Clinton hail from established political families has certainly helped their cause.

"I think it’s the prominence of being a member of the family that attracts attention, it attracts money, it attracts supporters, and a lot of people who hang on," said Stephen Wayne, a professor at Georgetown University who focuses on the American presidency. "It’s more the being well-known that attracts support if the person has political ambition."

And, as the saying goes, money is the mother’s milk of politics.

Kellerman, the author of All the President’s Kin, which scrutinizes the role of the first family from the Kennedys to the Reagans, described the situation as "pathetic".

"Forces have coalesced to make people who already have a leg-up both financially and in terms of visibility far more likely to be ahead of the game than any possible potential competitor," she said.

But equating the current state of America’s political system with those that have seen strongmen and their families entrenched in power is a bridge too far, Kellerman said.

"I understand the discomfort, and I think that it is mirrored around the world, including in this country, but to say that there is an analogy to a single individual holding on to power for a great length of time, that’s not completely accurate," she said.    

While most see Clinton’s eventual nomination as a foregone conclusion, it’s not, and even more so for Bush who has just begun what is shaping up to be a heated race for the GOP’s nomination.

And even as they benefit significantly from the prominence inherent in their surnames, the candidates will also have to contend with the challenges that those names present.

"One of the great things about American elections is you really don't know what’s going to happen," said Baker. "There’s always a wildcard factor."

Güncelleme Tarihi: 19 Haziran 2015, 12:45