On the Horizon: The United States is Facing Political Dynasties

There’s a crisis at our nation’s borders. The official unemployment rate might seem manageable, but a deeper analysis of those numbers reveals that more people are leaving the workforce, causing some to peg the “real” rate at 18 percent. There is social unrest in Ferguson, Missouri.

Sure, America has a lot on her plate in terms of problems and crises.

But as we look toward November 2016 – the month when we will choose the 45th person to promise us hope and change – America is fronted with its scariest reality: Voters may very well be choosing between two familiar names come Election Day.

Though she has yet to make a formal announcement that she will seek to become the leader of the free world, there’s been no shortage of rumors that Hillary Clinton, the former First Lady, Secretary of State and Senator from New York, will indeed throw her hat into the ring. And who better to challenge Hillary than good old Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor who has the distinction of being George W. Bush’s younger brother?

That’s right: We’re not that far away from a race between America’s two favorite families, the Bushes and the Clintons. And we just can’t wait to see which one of them we’ll be lucky enough to be able to call our next president… said no one, ever.

What is Going On?

“There are a lot of great families. It’s not just four families, or whatever. There are other people out there that are very qualified. We’ve had enough Bushes. I think this is a great American country, and if we can’t find more than two or three families to run for high office – that’s silly.”

So says Barbara Bush, former first lady, who I don’t think most people have an opinion of except for saying she seemed like your nice friendly grandma 25-odd years ago and she looks exactly the same today as she did back then.

But now we may begin to form an opinion: Barbara Bush, the shrewd prognosticator.

How is it that we seem to be obsessed with these two political dynasties? Let’s dive a little further into the details:

  • Jan. 20, 1981-Jan. 20, 1989: George H.W. Bush was the nation’s vice president, serving under Ronald Reagan.
  • Jan. 20, 1989-Jan. 20, 1993: Bush the Elder became president.
  • Jan. 20, 1993-Jan. 20, 2001: Bill Clinton served as president after he defeated Bush I in 1992.
  • Jan. 20, 2001-Jan. 20, 2009: George W. Bush, or Bush II, was president after defeating Al Gore in 2000. In fact, some might argue that George’s brother Jeb, then the governor of Florida, had something to do with his first election.
  • Jan. 21, 2009-Feb. 1, 2013: Hilary Clinton served as secretary of state – arguably the country’s third-highest office.

In other words, from Jan. 20, 1981 through Feb. 1, 2013 – that’s more than 32 years if you’re counting – there was only one day where someone from the Bush or Clinton families did not hold one of the nation’s three most powerful jobs. Just one day: Jan. 20, 2009, the one day when William Joseph Burns served as acting Secretary of State before Hillary’s swearing in.

We Must Remember Why We Exist


US Capitol Building

For lack of a better word, wouldn’t it be funny if we’re presented with a Bush v. Clinton showdown in 2016? Perhaps we could pitch a reality television show and call it “Keeping up with the American Political Dynasties.”

In all seriousness, the whole reason our country came into being was to prevent these kinds of situations from developing. Our ancestors turned their backs on a monarch that had deserted them long ago. As such, George Washington refused a guaranteed third term just because he didn’t want to risk America developing a monarchy of its own.

Back to Barbara Bush: She’s right. In this great country of ours, can’t we find strong candidates who don’t happen to be members of either one of these families to lead us? If history’s shown us anything, it seems like we won’t:

  • John Adams was our country’s second president, serving from 1797 to 1801. His son, John Quincy Adams, was our country’s sixth president, serving from 1825 to 1829.
  • Williams Henry Harrison was our country’s ninth president, serving for one month in 1841 before dying of pneumonia. His grandson, Benjamin Harrison, was our country’s 23rd president, serving from 1889 to 1893.
  • Theodore Roosevelt was our country’s 26th president, serving from 1901 to 1909. His fifth cousin, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, became our country’s 32nd president, serving from 1933 to 1945.

And to think, we’ve not even discussed the Kennedys!

There’s no way around admitting that, collectively, America certainly has her work cut out for her as we move into the future. There are a lot of problems we must confront in the coming years. As such, should we really be sending the same people back to attempt to fix the problems they and their kin are responsible for creating?

It’s time that we take a real hard look in the mirror to determine whether we owe it to ourselves to find somebody – anybody – who is not a Bush or a Clinton to win office in 2016.