Keeping It In the Family, or The Death Throes of a Dynasty

Let’s think back to the primaries and recall how historic they were turning out to be. Democratic front runners Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were neck and neck in the primaries. Though it wasn’t clear who would take the nomination, we knew that we were in for an historic campaign either way.

Obama would of course overtake Clinton and became the first black Democratic presidential candidate, and by August we knew it was either McCain-Palin or Obama-Biden that would triumph. Perhaps there was a sense of relief, too, in what those two tickets had in common: neither had a Bush or a Clinton anywhere in sight.

There was never a threat on the Republican side that a Bush would enter the scene. The only real prospects are Billy and Jeb Bush, but Billy’s got a few more years of hosting Access Hollywood before he’ll be ready to lead this country. As for Jeb, well, big bro Georgie kinda sorta soured the country to the idea of a Bush in the White House. Like an oil spill at a wildlife preserve, Jeb’s presidential dreams will require, for the time being, some remediation. (Expect him on the presidential scene in 2020, if not sooner.)

A Bush or a Clinton has been in the White House since 1989 and, further, has been part of every administration since 1981. If Hillary Clinton becomes Obama’s Secretary of State, that means we’ll have had a Bush or a Clinton in the administration for over thirty years, assuming she stays the full four-year term (or even serves at all). The Bush-Clinton dynasty is shaping up to rule over Washington the way the Medicis did Florence.

Well, no, it may not be that bad. This dynasty is not a collusion in which the Bushes and Clintons have worked together. It’s clear that they haven’t, and probably won’t start. This is a psychological dynasty that tells America that it’s “politics as usual” in Washington with all the familiar faces and last names you’ve grown to love and/or hate. Also, it says that believing in change in Washington is tantamount to believing in the reality of Santa Claus and Zeus (the Tooth Fairy and Thor [god and comic-book hero], though, are real), or as ludicrous as listening to some dopey kid saying the darndest thing and expressing interest in someday being president of the United States. Sorry, kid, it ain’t gonna happen; not on my watch, says politics as usual.

And while one could do much worse than having someone as savvy and whip smart as Clinton in their presidential cabinet, it could give credence to those who have called called Obama an elitist. Elitism doesn’t mean you’re smart, went to an ivy league school, or have a good job; it refers to the prestigious opportunities that are given to you regardless of what you may be able to accomplish. Elitism is not earning what are seen as your accomplishments.

It’s not so much Obama himself who’s being elite, it’s that he’s enabling elitism. Senator Clinton was able to easily win elections in New York, at least in part, thanks to her husband. Sure, she’s intelligent and qualified, but one would be willfully ignoring certain factors if they did not admit that Bill had some influence over the voters, or at least that her exposure as first lady made her familiar to voters.

This is not to say, moreover, that Hillary has not earned or does not deserve all of her accomplishments. But the fact remains that, in a country with millions of people eligible for appointments and electable positions, the same few names keep cropping up with regard to the nation’s highest office. Think about it. There could be people out there with some really good ideas who, let’s say, contribute to a website named after some animals.

When Barack Obama spoke of change in his many moving, eloquent speeches, is this what he had in mind? I’m fairly certain that most Americans that believed in the change that Obama peddled from town to town did not envision this. Are we resigned to accepting a “the more things change the more they stay the same” change?

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