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Jeb Bush’s Republican Identity Crisis and the Limits of Tolerance

| July 5, 2012

Jeb Bush is putting a little distance between himself and the nuttier side of the GOP.

Jeb Bush is putting a little distance between himself and the nuttier side of the GOP.

By Steven Kurlander

Since appearing before Congress and lamenting the intolerance found in today’s Republican Party, Jeb Bush is continuing to press his case, most recently in a National Review article entitled “The Grand Solutions Party.”

Bush argues that President Obama has governed from a “One Ideology, One Party, and One Man” perspective – “a centralized, planned, command-and-control government.”

Bush suggests Republicans present an alternative governing style, one that embraces “policy experimentation and fresh approaches” and presents the GOP as the “party of competing ideas.”

“It is time for the Republican party to offer an alternative. Not just an alternative to President Obama’s agenda of liberal government, which is important to do. We need to present an alternative to his approach to governance in general. An approach that applies to every elected office.”

For role models, Bush points to New Jersey’s Gov. Chris Christie, Louisiana’s Gov. Bobby Jindal and Indiana’s Gov. Mitch Daniels. These leaders have successfully worked with Democrats on contentious issues, and have expressed divergent opinions on issues such as immigration and social policy.

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“The animating force of this governance is diversity and creativity of thinking. And that is how the Republican Party should always be,” Bush wrote.

While acknowledging that Republicans should continue to believe in an ideology that encompasses individual achievement and opportunity, and small government, he stressed that strict adherence to ideology is not always practical when attempting to resolve complicated issues.

“Thick black lines of ideology are good at keeping people in, but they are also good at keeping people out. And our party can’t win if we keep people out. Our goal is not to assemble a small army of purists. We need a nation of converts. We have seen the other way of governing. It has had its day. It has made its best case. It has failed.”

Yet Bush’s advocacy for open discussion and tolerance only goes so far.

It’s how he uses that word “liberal” in associating the failures of Obama’s reign. It sounds like a dogmatic slur word — ala RINO — and diminishes his call for the GOP to be more tolerant of differing philosophies and opinions.


In the political context, the term “Liberal” has undergone several revisions since the end of World War II and means different things to different people.

Within the Republican Party, which once had a very powerful Liberal wing, the rabid, intolerant conservatism that Bush decries has succeeded in equating the word with extreme leftist ideologies such as socialism and Marxism.

In fact, Bush’s description of Obama’s reign in the White House as “One Ideology, One Party, and One Man” is more Orwellian than anything else.

For Bush to validate his message, he should be the first to stop using the buzzword “Liberal” in a derogatory manner.

Here’s the bottom line: No matter what race, color, sex, or class — and no matter what they call themselves — most Americans are not moderates, which on its face disregards passionate belief. Rather, they are what I would call “liberal conservatives.” They judge issues and causes case-by-case — some liberal, some conservative — informed by their personal upbringing, religion, beliefs and lifestyles.

In reality, there’s a little liberal in every conservative, and a little conservative in every liberal.

Americans are disgusted with the control of both political parties by the extremes of the spectrum.

Bush is making a righteous argument for a paradigm change toward more dialogue, more compromise and more common sense.

To truly capture the hearts and minds of Americans, he just needs to be a little more liberal in how he speaks about the change he wants to see.

Steven Kurlander blogs at Kurly’s Kommentary, writes a weekly for Fort Lauderdale’s Sun-Sentinel and is a South Florida communications strategist.

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9 Responses for “Jeb Bush’s Republican Identity Crisis and the Limits of Tolerance”

  1. elaygee says:

    He’s a modern facist, Mr. Bush is. New buzz words, new media models, same old hate.

  2. Magnolia says:

    Well, at least he hasn’t started a PAC called “White People for Bush”. Our current occupant disgusts me. The country has never been more divided. 4 more years of this and we’ll have civil war. This isn’t supposed to be about THEM and their special interests. It is supposed to be about us. I haven’t seen one damn dime reach the people in this administration. No sir, I’ll not support this.

  3. NortonSmitty says:

    And the alternative is?

    • Magnolia says:

      I’m going to support Romney, Norton. I don’t want more of the man who is clueless. Everything is in decline. I’ll not vote for more of that.

  4. palmcoaster says:

    @Norton. If I had a choice would be Ron Paul, but corporations and his own party controlled by them, will never allow him to be President. Imagine with his stand against all China imports that have stolen our jobs and against these needless wars. So I have to settle for… Obama, the less damaging of the two. I am still waiting for his total Change promised, at least regarding to end these useless wars! But the war profiteering corporations do not let him.
    He should have complied with his promise, after done with Osama Bin Laden.

  5. question says:

    Could Gov. Bush be ANY” MUSHIER”…like he’s trying to talk a cat in off a ledge.

    Dear God..put a point on it, spit it out Instead of ‘he stressed that strict adherence to ideology is not always practical when attempting to resolve complicated issues’…say…cut the T-Party nut job extreme-ism and come to the negotiating table in good faith. Stop trying to bring down this President with every breath you take.

    You still get points Gov Bush for TRYING to right the ship …thanks.

  6. question says:

    magnolia:
    You’ve actually seen quite a bit more than ‘a dime’…some samples

    As president, Obama signed economic stimulus legislation in the form of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 in response to the Late 2000s recession. Other major domestic policy initiatives include the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the Consumer Protection Act.

    all linked here..please go review EACH of them: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barack_Obama

    • Magnolia says:

      Every GREEN company who received a dime of that money has gone under. Show me the shovel ready jobs he promised.

      In 2013 we are goign to see the largest tax increase in history. For those middle class families floundering now, this will sink them.

      If you ask Congress what happened to that TARP money, they haven’t a clue. I have seen government websites credit Congressional districts that DO NOT EXIST.

      I’ve had enough. I’m watching the banks and wall street get theirs, the unions get theirs, the car companies get theirs.

      Enough.

  7. some guy says:

    OK so these are some of the examples of what 0bama has done—-As president, Obama signed economic stimulus legislation in the form of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 in response to the Late 2000s recession. Other major domestic policy initiatives include the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the Consumer Protection Act.—NOW if we only had some examples of GOOD things he has done for this Republic.

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