In 2000, George W. Bush secured the Republican presidential nomination using a political machine and donor base inherited from his father, who inherited it from Ronald Reagan. Bush the Heir ran against Al Gore, who inherited his machine from Bill Clinton, who later passed the machine to his wife, Hillary, after he took it back from Al Gore. In 2008, the Democratic nomination is all but locked up by Hillary, thanks to the inherited machine, meanwhile Bush’s brother, the son of the first Bush, that is the retiring Florida Governor Jeb Bush, has announced that he has not ruled out (or in) a run for the Presidency.
This raises the prospect that in 2008 Jeb could inherit from his brother the machine he inherited from his father and use it to take on Bill Clinton’s wife when she uses the machine she inherited from her husband; or perhaps it’s more likely they will face each other when the second President Clinton runs for re-election in 2012, railing against the dangerous instability that might be brought on by a third President Bush.
Perhaps it’s time to bring back the inheritance tax—and apply it to high office.
I remember learning as a child that America once fought some sort of revolution, in part, because our ancestors objected to being ruled by a hereditary elite. At least that’s what I was able to work out from the “Schoolhouse Rocks” song “No More Kings.” How astonished President Washington would be, if he could see his namesake on the Potomac today.
If Hillary Clinton wins the Democratic nomination in 2008, it will mark a period of 28 years during which every presidential election has featured either a Clinton or a Bush on the ticket. It is solely by virtue of the fact that I had the misfortune to have entered first grade during the Carter administration that I have any memory at all of a time when the bumpers of America’s automobiles did not have the words “Bush” or “Clinton” stickered upon them.
These two families are beginning to look like the political equivalent of herpes—ugly smile-killing outbreaks occur every four years punctuated only by long periods of latency during which the infection spreads to unwary contacts and runs up health care costs. And all the while America is in denial claiming, “It’s just a cold sore and our republic is perfectly healthy.”
Well, NO, it is not just a historical cold sore. It is more than a little strange. Does anyone believe that in a true political meritocracy of 300 million people (at least 100 million of which are not illegal aliens and over 35, thus being eligible to be president), that we could have a period of decades in which our choices for President consisted mostly of members of just two families? Clearly the influence of the political machine and the inside connection has gotten a wee bit out of hand.
At this rate, the election of 2020 is more likely than not to consist a Bush-Bush vs. Clinton contest—the Bush twins vs. Chelsea, I mean. If Bush-Bush wins, the cabinet will consist entirely of jars containing the disembodied brains of family advisors from the first Bush Administration—plus half the offspring from the James Carville vs. Mary Matalin marriage. Whereas if Chelsea wins, the cabinet will consist of the other half of the Carville-Matalin children and a sink containing the disembodied residue of the first Clinton Administration.
The path to the presidency seems so tied to these two families that I’ve heard John Kerry briefly considered marrying Chelsea Clinton in 2004—but was put off by the cut in pay that it would involve. God help the girl if she ever wins the lottery or ends up being widowed from a French’s mustard heir.
I think the American political scene could use a little new blood, some new perspectives, and a few new ideas. How about we elect an administration that doesn’t come ready with its own nameplates from the last time it was there?
That’s why I would like to propose an amendment to the Constitution:
Amendment 28: No one shall hold the office of President who has previously been held by the President in his office.
Technically that might not bar Hillary from running, but you get the point: no children or wives or grandkids. No girlfriends or husbands or sanchos. No brothers or sisters or first cousins. One presidency per family per visit, please.
The American electorate cannot allow itself to simply be given to the heirs of whatever incompetents previously finagled their way into office. I mean, this is America—not Massachusetts. We needn’t live like idiot peons inherited as a package deal with the land we live on.
Unfortunately, I do not believe my amendment will be ratified—for one thing the Kennedys oppose it. So Americans will need to get themselves new choices the hard way.
While you weren’t paying attention, the 2008 New Hampshire primary began last month. Get off your butt and get involved or you’ll end up with whatever insiders most successfully gain control of each party’s mindless apparatus in the next year. If you wait until the general election to evaluate your choices, donate and volunteer, you’ll end up having to choose between the connected and the connected.
Wouldn’t you rather see something interesting—like a Tancredo vs. Kucinich debate? Theoretically, it’s still your country.
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