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Posted by on Feb 15, 2015 in 2016 Elections, 2016 Presidential Election, Featured, Politics | 8 comments

Jeb Bush, Republican Technocrat

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Ezra Klein comments on Jeb Bush’s 2016 Presidential prospects on

Bush isn’t running as any kind of conservative, at least not right now. Rather, he’s running as something a bit odder: a Republican technocrat. He wants to be the data guy, the operations guys, the guy who cares little for ideology but deeply for evidence. “The answer isn’t no government,” he told Fournier. “The answer is smarter, effective government.” He sounds like Obama.


The problem is that the Republican Party doesn’t much like technocrats. The closest they’ve come in recent years is Paul Ryan, who speaks technocrat, even as he breathes conservatism. Mitt Romney probably is a technocrat, but in order to win his party’s nomination, he became severely conservative and lost much of whatever technocratic cred he had in the process.


There are two reasons for this, mainly. One is that conservatives are innately skeptical of technocrats. “I would rather be governed by the first 2,000 people in the Boston telephone directory than by the 2,000 people on the faculty of Harvard University,” William F. Buckley famously said.


The other is that the Republican Party is committed to a set of policy ends that make life hell for anyone trying to draw up a credible plan. The GOP is committed to balancing the budget while refusing all tax increases. It also wants to avoid annihilating itself as a political party by proposing draconian spending cuts. One of these conditions has to give. But conservatives don’t want to budge on any of them, which is how you get fiascos like Mitt Romney’s tax plan.


In a smart piece, Matt Yglesias read Bush’s big speech as a cover letter for Mayor of the United States of America — a job that doesn’t exist. But after reading this interview, I wonder if Bush’s more proximate challenge is he’s trying to appeal to a party that doesn’t exist. The modern Republican Party is no place for technocrats. And Bush doesn’t seem inclined to run as a conservative.

Cross-posted from The Sensible Center

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  • StockboyLA

    “The modern Republican Party is no place for technocrats. And Bush doesn’t seem inclined to run as a conservative.”

    With the (R) after his name he is probably hoping that enough Independents/moderates vote for him to make up for the extreme Republicans who will not hold their noses and vote for him.

    • JSpencer

      I suspect you’re right about Jeb’s hope, although it’s hard to see what rationale independents/moderates would have for voting for him – short of what they consume in the way of campaign ads… or blind faith.

    • The_Ohioan

      Right. Especially since the crazies are supposed to be only 20% of the R’s. Depends which groups turn out, just like the Dems.

  • JSpencer

    Even if Jeb was a latent technocrat, his party would never let him run for president if they thought he’d come out of that closet.

  • dduck12
    • The_Ohioan

      Nothing wrong with a little nepotism, is there? Bush V Clinton might be the epitome of the attribute.

    • JSpencer

      Interesting article, one that gives a little more insight into who Jeb is and how he’s acquired his connections. By any reasonable definition he’s very conservative, yet there isn’t nearly enough red meat there for the tea party. I wonder how he’ll cope with that…

  • rudi

    Jeb is a technocrat just like Romney. Hope his campaign beaches just like ORCA.

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