We are barely two months past the mid-term elections, so it might seem premature to delve into presidential politics. Yet here we are, some 22 months before Election Day 2016, and the conventional wisdom has Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton the likely nominees.
That may well be how the great game plays out, but the notion that the presidency essentially belongs to one of two families grates on many Americans.
Bush (son of one president and brother of another) and Clinton (wife of yet another) certainly have the resumes of formidable candidates. Bush was a popular governor of one of the nation’s most populous states. Clinton was a senator for another and a well-regarded secretary of state.
But it is the dynastic ties — and, tellingly, the ready-made access to proven fundraising machinery — that make them the favorites of the consultants, donors and pundits who populate the political elite. As they see it, Bush and Clinton are dominating the so-called “invisible primary,” lining up without a formal declaration of candidacy the support of key people in the process. Their goal: get the best strategists; lock up the best donors; and keep potential rivals for the nomination, if not out of the race, at least short of resources.
That may well happen. But last week’s Washington Post report on a focus group in Colorado — a story we ran in Sunday’s edition — suggests that even if the political elite see Bush and Clinton as virtually inevitable, the electorate may not be so willing to fall in line.
There is good reason to believe that the biggest issue in 2016 will be economic mobility. The recovery from the Great Recession has been very good for the very rich, and not much of a recovery at all for those below that.
If that’s the issue, the public will want to hear from somebody it can believe understands the public’s frustration with the economy — and that somebody is unlikely to come from a political dynasty. Dynasties are of and for the elite, and 2016 may not be a good election to be of and for the elite.