The never-ending spectacle of the run-up to the November 2016 U.S. presidential election took an important turn on Monday when Jeb Bush, son of one and brother of the other, officially threw his hat in the ring. It is a completely predictable Republican candidacy. The former Florida governor delayed his candidacy as long as he could so he could take full advantage of a controversial Supreme Court ruling that removed the cap on campaign financing. Thus he is entering the race with an indecently huge fund of hundreds of millions of dollars.
Though Bush is clearly a successful fundraiser, his influence on party activists is more fleeting. Which is intriguing. Like Hillary Clinton, who gave a big speech on Saturday in New York full of assertive, progressive fervor, Bush has a name that hinders him, while giving him a certain notoriety. His main issue lies elsewhere — he has to win over voters within a Republican Party that is ever-increasingly disconnected from American society.
Jeb Bush has always been solidly entrenched in the right. As governor of Florida from 1999 to 2007, he reduced taxes by $19 billion, slashed public services by 11 percent, reduced the scope of affirmative action programs and abortion clinics, all while passing a law supported by the gun lobby. His brother George is idolized by many evangelicals, a highly influential fringe of the party, for his "born-again" conservatism. Apparently that's not enough.
He still has trouble convincing the most conservative of Republicans that he is one of them. He stands against two of their anti-Washington obsessions in particular. He is in favor of the regularization of illegal immigrants — his wife is Mexican and he even converted to Catholicism — and he supports establishing a national curriculum in high schools ...
And so? The Republican nomination race is a zoo of 10 candidates, each more right-wing than the next. Jeb Bush may feel that he must match the ultraconservatism of Rand Paul or Marco Rubio to round up activists and win the nomination. In that case, the Republican Party will continue to become more radical. The tea party is far from representative of the future of American society. The winds of political and social change favor the Democrats.