Open Letter to Jeb Bush
I hear you’re having a frustrating time of it. The nomination was supposed to be yours for the asking, and it’s getting further away all the time. I don’t know if what I’ve got to say is going to make you feel any better, but maybe I can offer a little clarity.
The bane of your existence seems – and I choose that word carefully – seems to be Donald Trump. He’s “the outsider,” and Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina are riding his coattails by being “outsiders” who are potentially more palatable than Mr. Trump. Carson’s ahead of you, and Fiorina’s breathing down your neck. In fact, the three of them are getting as many voters right now as the whole rest of you put together. But you know that.
I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but it’s not Donald Trump’s golden personality that is your problem. Your problem … well … is you, sir. Not you, personally, but the whole lot of you. And not so much you, as what and who you represent.
The perception is that we can’t believe anything that you say. Big, ongoing problems in this country have been getting nothing but lip service from the Republicans for decades now. Yes, I know, you were a big success back in Florida, brought the budget down, good conservative, stared down the liberals, all that. Acknowledged.
But believe it or not – and many in your party choose not to believe it – we out here in fly-over country actually have brains, and pay attention to what’s going on. For instance, we remember all the way back to 2014, when the Republicans running for Congress promised to use the “power of the purse” to shut down Obamacare and so forth and so on. And … uh … they seem to have forgotten.
Now, to be fair, I know why they didn’t do anything like that. Just so we’re on the same page, I’ll spell it out; Any disagreement like that comes down, in the end, to the budget. You give the President a budget he doesn’t like, and he won’t sign it. Then, the government shuts down until somebody gives in. And the Republicans have learned three things about President Obama:
1 – He’s arrogant
2 – He’s stubborn
3 – He’s not running for reelection.
So, he’d be perfectly happy to leave the government shut down until January 21, 2017. Therefore, it would be stupid to stick a budget under his nose that he won’t like, because he has nothing to lose.
The trouble, then, is that the Republicans don’t bother to explain this to us, the great unwashed mass. They act as if we can't figure that out. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul and some others scream bloody murder, and the mainstream boys say nothing. It becomes a passive-aggressive game, and anyone with two functioning brain cells knows it.
What nobody seems to realize is, the simple act of telling the truth and moving on would defuse a lot of this. Look at what happened last Saturday in the Democratic debate. First question to Sanders was about whether or not he should apologize for Hillary’s donor lists being hacked, and he said yes, and apologized.
The look on Hillary’s face was priceless. You could see the wheels turning. She never expected that. She assumed he’d do what she would do, which was deflect and shuck and jive. It’s why Bernie has so much traction. Right or wrong, he’s honest. Dumb, maybe, but honest. (Isis was caused by global warming!) Like Jimmy Carter, but with a spine.
But you, sir, are a mainstream Republican. And the average person in this country doesn’t trust mainstream Republicans any more. You, as a group, talk about the government being too big, but you never seem to make it any smaller. You talk about too much waste in the Federal budget, but it just grows. You talk about security, but the borders still hemorrhage undocumented people. You make big noise about not letting in Syrian refugees, but Canada’s letting in 20,000 and the perception is that you’ll do nothing to keep them from coming here.
We know why, too. The people who gave you that big, fat war chest want those undocumented workers for their own purposes. They pay some temp agency minimum wage x how many people they can jam into a van, and those people in the back of the van are lucky to see half of it. And they can’t bitch or unionize, because they’re illegal.
We KNOW this! It’s not a big, dark secret, and we’re not all stupid. Lots of big businesses want an army of workers they can use like toilet paper. They also want hell-hole countries for them to come from, so that they’ll keep on coming. It’s the Royal Scam, by Steely Dan. If we helped Mexico and Honduras and El Salvador become more democratic and prosperous, who would make the Beanie Babies and pick the fruit?
So, why should we believe you? You stood there on Fox News the other night outlining a reasonable plan for dealing with illegal immigrants, and I just don’t believe you. I think it’s bullshit. I think that, given eight years, you and your party would figure out some reason why it just couldn’t get done. Then, you could blame the next Democrat for not doing it. Why do I think this? Because I've seen it already.
So, no, sir, I won’t be voting for you in the NH primary. I’m not sure who I am voting for yet, but it won’t be you, or Marco, or George Pitaki, or Chris Christie, or Rand Paul, et cetera, because you’re all liars. Okay, maybe not specifically liars, but your positions and ideas are so “nuanced” that what you want us to think you’re saying isn’t what you’re ACTUALLY saying at all. In fact, if you get the nomination that you seem to think is your birthright, I might just – for the first time in my life – not vote at all.
This is why I’m taking the time to write to you. You CAN earn my vote. For the most part, I agree with you on many important issues. There are a few simple things that you could say and do to set yourself apart from the pack. One would be to explain that budget thing, about Obama not caring if the government gets shut down. Yeah, I know, you’re not in Congress, but you could still explain it. And don’t use it as a club, just explain it.
In fact, just about anywhere that you could break things down into plain old truth would make you a lot of friends. You need to address things like whether or not you have backers that benefit from illegal immigration. Take a risk. Tell the world, live on television, that as President you’ll help make their countries the kind of places they won’t have to leave. You’ll pressure their dictators to reform, instead of just selling them more planes. Remember, billionaires only get one vote each.
That is how you could separate yourself from the pack. You're at a crossroads, Mr. Bush. You've gotten as far as you have with help from billionaires, businessmen, and deep-inside Republican movers and shakers. You're standing in the place where John McCain and Mitt Romney have stood before you.
Except that the train is leaving the station, and you're not on it. The people, the individual voters, are driving the train this year, and they see who's backing you, and whose phone calls you're taking and who you're leaving on hold, and they don't like you. WE don't like you.
Think back to the first debate. To that moment when Rand Paul made some sharp remark about Trump, and The Donald shot back about Paul saying something on the floor of the Senate and then immediately posting it on line. Trump exposed the game! And thousands, if not millions, of us felt a thrill go through us. He pulled back the curtain and exposed the little man pushing the buttons.
Ted Cruz does it, too. He rants and raves, knowing that if Mitch McConnell did as he asked and dug in his heels, that they'd lock down the government for the next year and a half. It's easy to bitch that the machine you're riding in won't make the hill when you're not driving.
So, Mr. Bush, expose the game. Call them out. And call yourself out, too. It's time to choose. Are you going to be President for your rich, powerful friends? Or are you going to be President to make the country, and the world, a better place? Because that's what we want, and we hate the thought of holding our nose and settling for less, yet again.
Mr. Bush, it's time to turn to your rich, powerful friends and say thanks for your help, but I'm going to give the people what they want. And in the end, you'll thank me. You'll have to work a little harder, but you're used to that and you're starting from a position of advantage. The rising tide that the people want will raise you as well. The auto industry hated the idea of opening our doors to Japan and Europe, and building cars that were safer and cleaner, but the smart ones buckled down and did the job, and we're all happier for it.
Assure them that the things you're going to do will help them, even if it pinches a little at the beginning. Then, turn your back on them and embrace the people you want to vote for you. Tell them the truth. Admit that you were trying to walk the line. Bet the farm. Risk it all. Be the first American politician, maybe ever, that told the real, whole truth. Expose the games.
Explain how basic conservative values, like smaller government and strong foreign policy, benefit everybody, and not just white men. Explain how it will help blacks, and women, and hispanics. Explain how the Democrats, who claim to be compassionate by not doing anything about illegal immigration, are actually ripping off those very same people.
Explain how liberals are actually keeping the downtrodden down by making them dependent on big government. And then explain, in terms we can understand, how you're going to make government smaller. Not just grow more slowly, but actually become smaller.
We, the people, believe these things. We get it. We understand that these are things that are real. And we want somebody who wants to take us in that direction. We want to follow a leader who will actually improve things.
Those of us who are old enough to remember 1980 watch you and Trump cross swords, and hear you saying a lot of the things that people said about Reagan. Trump isn't the man behind the curtain, covering up what he really is with a lot of smoke and fire and lights. You are.
So pull back the curtain yourself. Expose the game. And step out into the light, and be that guy. The guy that actually did something to help the Tin Man, and the Scarecrow, and the Cowardly Lion. The translucent face in the smoke and fire couldn't do anything for them, but the exposed huckster changed their lives by telling them the truth and altering their perspective. He even got Dorothy home!
Remember, if you will, the tale of when the Disciples were in the boat on the sea of Galilee in the storm. They looked out and saw Jesus walking on the water. Peter got out of the boat and walked to Jesus, and then saw the storm and almost sank. But Jesus took his hand, and calmed the storm.
Mr. Bush, you are in a boat in a storm with a group of other disciples. The one who will stand on the sea with Jesus is the one bold and brave enough to get out of the boat.