Tuesday, January 30, 2007

"If he were 'Jeb Smith' instead of 'Jeb Bush' he'd probably be at the top of the pack right now"

That's a quote from a social conservative about the current president's brother. This falls close on the heels of Michael Barone's WSJ op-ed discussing the Bush and Clinton dynasties, in which he essentially wonders whether we are making the transition from a democracy to an aristocracy. My sense is that the determining factor is not blood ties so much as the networks of resources each candidate can pull together. Hillary Clinton isn't the front-runner on the Democratic side because she's a Clinton; she's a front-runner because she has managed to put together a strong team and a strong ground organization, drawing on the connections that she and her husband made while in the White House. (That's in addition to being a formidable candidate in her own right.) Similarly, the current President was able to lock in many of the people from his father's organization early in his 2000 campaign. But whether the ties are blood or social, it's a troubling trend; our system is set up to ensure a certain amount of churn in the executive and legislative branches, and that churn is slowing due to the changing dynamics and organization of campaigns.

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