Bush and Clinton: Has America’s System of Government Become a ‘Monarchical Republic’?

The United States of America’s system of government is that of a republic. However, in the context of both upcoming and past elections, it appears to have migrated from being a cradle of democracy and headed toward rule by political families. Here, two political names recur more than others: Bush and Clinton. These families have succeeded one another time and again in the White House. Over many years of White House history, and in the context of the 2016 elections, the contest has been confined to these two names. As has been the case in prior elections, Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush, descendants of a White House dynasty, are considered the most prominent candidates for the Democrats and Republicans. The Bushes and Clintons have taken turns controlling the White House, making some say that the system of government in America resembles a sort of monarchy. Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida, is the son of former Republican President George Bush Sr. and the younger brother of the most recent President Bush. Likewise, Hillary Clinton is the wife of [former] Democratic President Bill Clinton and the former secretary of state from President Obama’s first term.

Many opinion polls conducted show the advantage this dynasty holds over the rest of the competitors. Similarly, there are a number of researchers who regard the road to the White House wide open for either party. The Washington Post commented on the former secretary of state’s declaration of candidacy for president by saying that Clinton is “entering the race with universal name recognition, undisputed smarts and a record of hard work and competence. Nonetheless, she knows as well as anyone that her road to the White House will not be easy.”

On the other hand, British newspaper The Independent issued a report that detailed the possibilities awaiting candidate Hillary Clinton following her entry into the race for president in 2016. It highlighted the factors that could either bring her close to or keep her out of the White House. The report concluded that, despite Clinton’s superiority in the majority of opinion polls published before her candidacy was finalized, there are many factors that could still hurt her chances to win the White House.

Despite opinion polls, among the factors that could hurt her chances is her advantage in the race, which could weaken her campaign by bringing on complacency and vanity, and creating a state of boredom among voters.

Accompanying this point is the issue of Hillary’s age. At 67 years old, if she were to win, she would be the second oldest president ever to enter the White House, after the late U.S. President Ronald Reagan, who became president at the age of 69.

The report touched on another item that may hurt Hillary’s chances, which is her attempt to collect an estimated $2.5 billion to finance her campaign through her numerous and diverse relationships, an amount the report deems the largest ever used in a campaign for the American presidency. This has made some think it likely that she will cozy up to Wall Street while ignoring everyday grassroots contributors.

The report did add that the idea of Clinton being the first lady to arrive at the White House as president of the republic, and not as first lady [to a president], doubles her chances of winning, gaining her votes from those who wish to make history in America. However, this does not controvert the existence of many who would vote against her because she is a woman.

The report went on to point out that Hillary’s abundant prospects outmatch those of her opponent Jeb Bush in regard to attracting women, especially those who have finished college, and attracting young people between the ages of 18 and 39.

In contrast, American newspaper The Spectrum was of the opinion that Hillary Clinton’s history is not in her favor, and that she is not positioned to take over the presidency of the United States, noting that U.S. foreign policy has seen numerous setbacks that were punctuated by disasters during the time Clinton held the position of secretary of state. As was the case in the Middle East, U.S. policies undermined Washington’s friendships with European countries and favored the stance of America’s enemies during Clinton’s time in office. A dangerous escalation began in foreign policy with Russia as well. The premature withdrawal of the Obama administration’s commitment to provide defense technology to protect Poland and the Czech Republic from rocket attacks left the two countries vulnerable to pressure and threats from Russia, which in turn left other countries wondering to what extent they could rely on American promises.

The paper added that the truly historic disaster in American foreign policy — Washington’s failure to prevent Iran from possessing nuclear capabilities — occurred during Clinton’s tenure, with the prolonged negotiations giving Tehran time to hide, strengthen and multiply its nuclear installations.

The Spectrum also noted that U.S. foreign policy did not see any political victories during Clinton’s time as secretary of state. Syria, China, North Korea and other countries were host to scenes of identical setbacks, time and time again.

Hillary the Strong

On the other hand, some analysts think that Clinton’s road through the primaries is almost unencumbered. They see that she stands alone among her Democratic peers at the head of the race so far, just as she possesses extensive credentials and is supported by real experiences and achievements in foreign affairs from her time as secretary of state. This enhances her competitive edge and provides her with a clear advantage in the race.

The analysts go on to note that Bill Clinton, who at 68 years old enjoys an extensive network of strong relationships, possesses true popularity and an irresistible charisma, has a number of ways in which he could help his wife Hillary, provided that he employs a composed message. Measuring up to this won’t be easy, for although Republicans poke fun at the former first lady by calling her a candidate of the past, the Democratic Party seems less divided. It appears that, barring any big surprises, Hillary Clinton will be able to easily pass the obstacle of the primaries thanks to the lack of any real opponents.

A Cumbersome Political Legacy

As for Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida and a strong contender for Hillary, some polls put him ahead of the other candidates seeking the Republican nomination. The delivery of Bush’s campaign announcement was preceded by a series of introductions and musical performances that carried a clear touch of Hispanic heritage. This was interpreted by analysts as an attempt to win over Hispanic communities in the United States.

In a video presentation at the ceremony announcing his candidacy, Bush vowed to protect society’s downtrodden and remove barriers to social mobility. In the video, titled “Greatest Century,” Bush said: “I see a great country on the verge of its greatest century, and I’m ready to lead.”

However, some media reports suggest that Jeb Bush’s way to the White House is hindered by a number of issues that relate to his family, [members of] which have led the country a few times before. As analysts see it, Bush is in a struggle to escape from the shadow of his brother’s policies. In recent weeks, Bush has found himself on the defensive over the Iraq War, which was launched by his brother, and he continues to falter in clarifying his position on the ordeal. This issue has highlighted the problems Jeb may face due to his family name and the consequences of their fame.

A Full Plate

Jeb calls for immigration reform. On education, one of his favorite subjects, he supports national reform for its programs; the conservative tea party rejects this. Jeb focused on education in a promotional video in which he talked about the program he launched in Florida to help students from the middle class pay private school fees. Until last year, Jeb also managed the Foundation for Excellence in Education, which calls for raising the level of education in the United States, poor in comparison with other major countries competing against the United States.

According to a recent poll by The Washington Post and ABC News, nearly half of Americans surveyed supported voting for Jeb Bush. Jeb certainly has points in his portfolio that set him apart — one can look to his great ability to get adequate donations for his campaign, his deep ties with a large number of Republican Party and fringe leaders, and his good reputation within the party and at the political level. He is also fluent in Spanish and can pull in Hispanic votes. His credibility within the Hispanic community betters his chances of expanding his party base.

Last June, Bush surprised a crowd of religious Americans when he called for opening America’s doors to immigrants, reasoning that they are pushing the U.S. economy toward recovery with their fertility — their large families — and their role in raising the balance of Social Security and retirement funds for the generation born in the baby boom years following World War II.

This particular crowd played a very large part in supporting his older brother — this is a reference to congregations of the fundamentalist Christian right. Although this crowd has eased its voice in recent years, there were a number of misdeeds warranted during President Obama’s two terms. These misdeeds catalyzed the resurgence of the Christian right, due especially to the negative effects of Obama’s rumored relationship with Islamic fundamentalist groups and the popularity of Islamophobia.

Family Rule

Those who follow the elections can see that America, the “cradle of democracy,” lives in fear of being turned into a state personally ruled by families. This is believed to be a result of the strong, continued presence of two families, Bush and Clinton, in the American political scene for 35 straight years, and especially relevant now with Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush entering their respective parties’ primaries in preparation for the upcoming presidential elections in 2016.

During the past 35 years, Bush and Clinton were the two names most visible in U.S. presidential elections. As such, American citizens under the age of 36 have witnessed but a single presidential election — Barack Obama’s victory in 2012 — in which none of the members of the two families were in the running.

The first appearance of the Bush family in a U.S. presidential election was George Bush Sr.’s 1980 run in the primaries for the Republican Party. Upon his loss to Ronald Reagan, who won the nomination and then the presidency, Bush took over as vice president of the United States for two consecutive terms.

In 1989, Bush won the election for the presidency of the United States [and held onto it] until 1992, when he lost in the presidential election in favor of the Democratic candidate, Bill Clinton. After continuing as U.S. president for two terms, Clinton handed off the presidency to another member of the Bush family, George Bush Jr., who took office for two consecutive terms. In this manner, the Bush and Clinton families held power in the United States for 19 years in a row, all the way from 1989 to 2008.

It was possible for the presidency to return to the Clinton family again when candidate Hillary Clinton ran in the 2008 Democratic primaries, but she withdrew before Barack Obama, granting U.S. policy a break from the two families for two terms, aside from Hillary’s work during that time as secretary of state from January 2009 to February 2013.

Political Dynasty

Now, Hillary Clinton’s campaign announcement leading up to the Democratic Party primaries and Jeb Bush’s own announcement at about the same time in preparation for 2016 have aroused debate in the United States about whether these two families will [again] monopolize U.S. politics. Accordingly, the term “political dynasty” has surfaced in American media circles.

Commenting on the situation, Russ Baker, 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, “democracy in the United States has entered the recovery room.”* Baker pointed to another type of political monopoly that differs from a monopoly by families, which is “the control of the intelligentsia over the political scene,”* citing the example of the 2004 elections, which were a contest between George W. Bush and the Republican Party, and John Kerry and the Democratic Party.

Baker felt that “the control of certain families or the intelligentsia (intellectuals) on the American political scene, despite the presence of huge numbers of eligible candidates, is something that makes you frustrated,”* expressing his belief that “the great influence of big money, corporations and the military-industrial complex on the American political scene does not leave many choices before the American people.”*

All Too Familiar

In turn, Barbara Kellerman, author of “All the President’s Kin” and a faculty member at Harvard, pointed out that “nepotism has played a role in American politics since the beginning of the [American] Republic,” noting that “our sixth president, John Quincy Adams, was the son of our second president, John Adams.”

Kellerman deemed it “too early to talk about a Bush-Clinton monopoly on the American political scene,”* saying that “a long time separates us from the 2016 presidential election, and we could see some changes in that time, especially with the objection of a large percentage of Americans to the idea that the competition in 2016 ends up between those two families.”*

In the case of a Bush or Clinton victory, many will look at the system of government in America as having turned into a sort of “monarchical republic” shared by both the Bush and Clinton families, which have held sway over the White House for years.

*Editor’s note: The original quotation, accurately translated, could not be verified.

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