By TJ Mayes
The post-election conventional wisdom has gelled. The Republican Party is facing some demographic challenges. Exit polling indicates that millennial, Latino and women voters supported President Obama overwhelmingly. These demographic groups are only set to increase as a share of the voting population going forward.
Several spokespeople have emerged given these problems. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who has a bullhorn as Chairman of the Republican Governors Association, is arguing that Republicans need to learn to talk to those demographics that aren’t generally Republican in different ways.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio, given his Cuban heritage and home state, has joined former Florida Governor Jeb Bush in calling for a different approach to immigration. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, apparently trying to expand his policy portfolio, is making a real attempt to create a party position towards poverty. New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte has been a conspicuous presence on talk shows recently.
The 2016 presidential jockeying began the moment Mitt Romney conceded. It seems that Jindal, Rubio, Bush, Ryan, and Ayotte are testing the waters. It is well-documented that President Obama had a blueprint for running for president the moment he arrived on Capitol Hill, but he didn’t go public until late 2006. The times seem to have changed.
It is odd that Americans have an affinity for political dynasties given our cultural disdain for an aristocratic class. The Adams, Taft and Kennedy political dynasties come to mind. The only family whose prominence surpasses the Kennedys since the Great Depression has been the Bush family. It seems that the Bush family is also beginning to pass their political torch to a new generation — regardless of Jeb’s 2016 intentions.
Jeb’s son, George P. Bush, is handsome, young and Latino (Jeb’s wife is a naturalized citizen from Mexico). When you blend his pedigree with his military and business career, he seems like the kind of politician you see in a television show or read about in a novel. There may be a perfect political storm brewing for George P. Bush in Texas, given the demographic reality.
What is striking is how perfectly he has built his network in Texas. He stared with the Hispanic Republicans of Texas, a perfect political networking tool that has allowed young Mr. Bush to meet with state legislators, city council candidates and precinct chairs/party activists on his own terms. That’s the real brilliance he’s playing to the party’s demographic fear rather than exploiting his name.
Bush also founded Maverick PAC, which brings young urban professionals together. The meetings feel like Mad Men without the smoke — everyone is good-looking, most are white and are (or will become) wealthy. These are folks whose interest in politics is purely transactional: the Country Club Republicans of Generation Y.
These projects have been underway for years, and Bush has been slowly and shrewdly building a political network of his own. His name will be merely icing on the cake, because his brand will be solid by iteself. He’s building a new kind of Republican coalition. He recently filed papers to form an exploratory committee in Texas, causing great fanfare nationally.
The perfect storm has created a political sensation, but it’s a storm that young Mr. Bush created himself, very quietly, and over the course of years. That’s why American political dynasties work: the families have generations’ worth of practice.