Running him in 2016 is like nominating a close relative of Jefferson Davis as the Democratic Party’s nominee in 1872 or nominating a prominent member of Herbert Hoover’s cabinet to represent the GOP in 1948: It dredges up a past the party desperately needs to transcend.
The fact that Republican elites are so excited about a Jeb candidacy suggests that they don’t understand how large a shadow George W. Bush still casts over their party. Inside the GOP establishment, the Bushes represent responsible conservatism. But for many other Americans—especially Millennials—they represent economic meltdown and unwinnable war.
When Bill Clinton ran in 1992, he tried mightily to convince Americans that the negative stereotypes about Democrats left over from Jimmy Carter’s presidency did not apply to him. That’s what Republicans need in 2016—a candidate who scrambles Americans’ stereotypes about the GOP by doing things George W. Bush never would. Right now, for all his flaws, Rand Paul is the only contender really trying.
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