In the US, a Western democracy with a population of 316 million, it’s astonishing that whenever there’s a presidential election in the offing, the same old familiar names are trotted out time and time again. And when one of them has a dynastic ring about it, the American public hardly blinks. Can it be mere happenstance of fate that candidates have been plucked from a handful of mega-wealthy establishment families more often than not?
What happened to the “American Dream” concept? Where are the approved candidates who battled their way up life’s ladder with little or no help from mama or papa? Are we to assume that only those with a president or vice-president dangling from their family tree are the most qualified to be America’s commander-in-chief and the de facto leader of the Free World?
Obama was, indeed, a fresh face on the scene, the exception proving the rule in recent times. He exploded into the public’s consciousness, promising change and vowing to put right the wrongs of the previous administration. One word that could sum-up his presidency would have to be “disappointment.” Most of the items on his laundry list of good intentions were filed away years ago and are unlikely to be taken out and dusted when there’s a Republican-dominated Congress out to thwart the Democrat president at every turn.
Obama’s inability to achieve his pledges he argued fiercely were dear to his heart, prior to his inauguration, begs the question of just how much power does an American president really have? That thought crossed my mind following the contentious, closely-run Bush vs. Gore contest in 2000. Gore won the nation’s popular vote by over half-a-million yet he was content to quietly walk off into the sunset and maintain a relatively low profile, rather than contest the results. But that’s a topic for another day.
Let’s look at some of the names expected to throw their hats in the ring. The first that springs to mind is, of course, Hillary Clinton. She’s been quite coy on the subject until last week when she reportedly hired a chief strategist and media adviser to facilitate a possible 2016 bid. The husband has had a go at the job, the wife might well get the chance, so dare we suppose that the daughter, Chelsea, will be hot to trot to the White House in 2020? Ridiculous!
Well, maybe not. Don’t forget, it’s been home to Bush the father, Bush the son and now it appears that Bush the younger has his eye on the Oval Office. Jeb Bush, a former governor of Florida, is potentially gearing up to race and has formed a political action committee (PAC) in that regard.
Millionaire Mitt Romney has just announced that he’ll give it another go in order to focus on “poverty;” he must be hoping the third time is lucky. If he’s waiting for frenzied applause from his party’s rank and file, he’s wasting his time. Sen. Rand Paul’s sentiments reflect what many are thinking—if he runs again, hoping for a different result, that is “the definition of insanity.” “It’s time for some fresh blood,” Paul added. He may be right, but as of now, there’s not much of that around.
Names being mulled of those who have expressed some interest include: Rand Paul himself, who must be deluded if he thinks his own blood’s still fresh; former Ambassador to the UN John Bolton, a rabid neoconservative; Sen. Lindsey Graham, Sen. John McCain’s trusty sidekick; the property magnate with the peculiar haircut, Donald Trump; and former presidential candidates Michele Bachmann and Joe Biden. The Islamophobic pastor from Florida, Terry Jones, says he’ll run as an independent. The actor, George Clooney, has hinted that he might try his luck. Sounds like a circus packed with clowns, weirdoes and has-beens. But when push comes to shove, the old guard will be the ones to receive party tickets and if I were forced to hazard a guess the final battle will be Clinton vs. Bush. They carry the name; they’ll pull in the money.
But why is it that Americans tolerate such a nepotistic political system operating openly throughout their beloved Land of the Free? Author of Family of Secrets: The Bush Dynasty, Russ Baker believes he has the answer. “It’s different for different strata of society,” he told the Guardian. “We are extremely jealous of the British and their Royal family, and although we have the idea of being able to rise from nothing, we are hung up on status. We crave the fantasy of royalty; we think it’s ennobling. We like the Kennedys and the Bushes and the Clintons.”
Linda S. Heard is a British specialist writer on Middle East affairs. She welcomes feedback and can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.