It's nice that George W. Bush's brother, Jeb, recognizes at least a part of what the Republican's problem is. What's not so good is that he's more than just a little bit vague on what to do about it.
"We're associated with being anti-everything," said Mr. Bush in a speech before the Conservative Political Action Committee. "Way too many people believe Republicans are anti-immigrant, anti-woman, anti-science, anti-gay, anti-worker. Many voters are simply unwilling to choose our candidates because those voters feel unloved, unwanted, and unwelcome in our party...Never again can the Republican Party simply write off entire segments of our entire society because we assume our principles have limited appeal."
Wasn't Jeb paying attention even as Brother George was touting his lamentable "compassionate conservative" mantra all those years, as if compassion was somehow something new to Conservatives?
If so many voters actually "associate" Republicans with "being anti-everything," that is entirely the fault of the Republican Party, which includes Jeb Bush. Over the years, the GOP has been far less than clear that it is not against legal immigration, not against equal rights and equal pay for women, that it is anti-bad science, and that they neither anti-gay nor anti-worker.
Contrary to the idea that voters are "unwilling to choose our candidates" because they feel "unloved, unwanted, or unwelcome," the fact is that Republicans lose because they too often lack the gumption to stand behind what they profess to believe. Being loved, or feeling welcome or even wanted has little to do with it. How can a voter cast his vote for a candidate who doesn't himself believe what he says he does?
"Here's reality," Mr. Bush went on. "If you're fortunate enough to count yourself among the priveleged, the rest of the nation is drowning. In our country today, if you're born poor, if your parents didn't go to college, if you don't know your father, if English isn't spoken at home, then the odds are stacked against you."
"Reality," he says? There are more than 23 million unemployed in the country today. For 44 months in a row, since Barack Obama was elected in 2008, unemployment stood at, or above 8 percent, and yet, Mr. Obama was reelected. All that the Republicans had to do to oust him was to pound on that reality. They didn't. It was Mitt Romney's election to lose, so he went right ahead and lost it.
Let's take Mr. Bush's points one at a time. "if you're born poor...then the odds are stacked against you." Well duuuuh, Mr. Priveleged! How very profound. But because one is poor, it doesn't necessarily follow that he's "drowning," along with "the rest of the nation." We are, however, most assuredly treading in deep, icy water, just the way we always have.
"If your parents didn't go to college...the odds are stacked against you." Um...well, what exactly do "your" parents have to do with it? What if "you" went to college even if "your" parents did not? What if "you" possess a skill that doesn't require a college degree but still pays well, like driving an 18-wheeler or painting houses or fixing automobiles? Or what if "you" possess no marketable skill, are you bright and determined enough to learn one?
"If you don't know your father...the odds are stacked against you." That one could go either way. It would certainly hold true if "your" father were a Rockefeller or a Kennedy or a Bush and "you" didn't know him. On the other hand, suppose he's Charley Manson.
Finally, "if English isn't spoken at home...the odds are stacked against you." Nonsense. One might be hard-pressed to find any American who hasn't been in a home where the family speaks only Spanish, or Italian, or any of a hundred other dialects. However, in America, most of us speak English and most immigrants learn to speak it if only from the necessity that society most likely isn't going to change to accomodate a lack of initiative. Would it not be the same if an American emigrated to France, or Mexico, or Russia and didn't speak the language?
Mr. Bush pointed to the two greatest impediments standing in the way of achieving America's full potential: 1.) too much federal spending and 2.) a "lackluster system of public education."
So it's back to Mr. Romney's "I don't want it, you take it" campaign and the fact that the Republicans shot themselves in the foot...again.
Reality is that Mr. Romney outlined a plan, and stuck to its vague outline when he should have been painting a portrait of economic growth and prosperity undeniable in its clarity. The liberal/socialist/Democrat Mainstream Media (LSDMSM) harped on Mr. Romney to "Give us the details." But, Mr. Romney doggedly kept on repeating the five points of his plan and offered no details. Last week, Jeb Bush piled on.
What Mr. Bush should have said is that the Republican Party stands for full employment, which by definition, is anti-nobody. He could have taken Mitt Romney's stated aim of making America energy independent and put some real meat on the bones. It doesn't require a genius to envision what might have been had Mr. Romney won election and unleashed the sleeping giant that is the American Free Enterprise System and the opportunity that it provides for all.
Government does not create jobs. Only the private sector can do that. Government cannot produce wealth because it has no expertise, let alone its own money to invest. It can only take revenue from what already exists in the private sector through taxation or outright confiscation. There is only so much of it. Mr. Bush might have taken note of that tidbit of reality.
He might have shown how a program to make America energy independent would have created jobs in every sector of the private sector. Result: full employment. Bar none.
Start with drillers and engineers finding oil and extracting it from the ground, and from the shale of the western slopes of the Rocky Mountains (which contains more oil than all of the Middle East), and from offshore. That oil would have had to be transported to refineries by ship, truck, and railroad. Sailors wanted. Truckers wanted. Engineers, track maintenance men wanted. Will train if necessary.
There are not be enough oil refineries in America today to convert that production into gas or heating oil. More refineries would have to be built. which means construction jobs. Electricians, carpenters, painters, technicians to run conversion equipment, management teams and sales representatives would be needed. Heating and airconditioning units would have to be installed and maintained. New roads would have had to be built and old ones improved. Will train if necessary.
None of those jobs can be done without the necessary parts and equipment. They don't grow on trees, which means they would have to be manufactured, which means factory jobs, even more management, sales, and transportation openings. More trainers. That's only the tip of the iceberg that Mr. Bush might have pointed to. He might have said that America is already the Saudi Arabia of coal and multiplied the jobs created in oil production by those in the mining industry.
Had he mentioned any of that, and attacked the bad-science myths of "global warming," Mr. Bush might still be talking. Instead, he tried to have it both ways, first by affirming the old, reliable Republican stand-by that there is too much federal spending, and then by agreeing with the liberal/socialist/Democrats (LSDs) that the public educational system is "lackluster." Ok we'll give him that one.
Except that the implication is that he agrees with the LSDs that the answer is to throw more money at an already failed educational system. In other words, the only way that he can think of to show that Republicans are not anti-worker, apparently, is to toss more money to the teacher's unions. Not a good idea.
Mr. Bush's "Me too" acknowledgement of the "popular" misperception, rather than scorning it with the disdain that it deserves, plays into LSD hands. Like the Captain of the Titanic ignoring iceberg warnings because he believed that his ship was unsinkable, Jeb Bush may actually believe that by admitting that he understands why the Republicans are seen as "anti-everything," he'll boost his standing with the voters.
It's an old Republican mistake, and it won't work. Until they learn that they must not only state their beliefs but also stand behind them, the Republicans will find themselves thinking about what might have been.