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December 22, 2014

Clinton v Bush.  As in HRC vs Bush III.  I just can’t.  I mean it, I can’t.   

It is not 1992.  Beverly Hills 90210 is not on the air (though I miss you Brendan, Andrea, and Kelly). I no longer ruin the ozone with hair spray.  But we are really, truly looking at a Presidential race where Hillary Rodham Clinton could face Jeb Bush in 2016. Brendan had to decide between Bill Clinton and George Bush I in 1992.  My students could have to decide between Hillary Rodham Clinton and Jeb Bush in 2016.

Clinton v. Bush.  Ahh, meritocracy.

I teach political science for cripes sakes!  We are critical as the research points us to be but some part of the mission of Political Science is to help foster political engagement from students of every political stripe who aim to inculcate social change and betterment via outsider tactics like social protest and insider strategies like running for office and working for government.

By the time students show up in my college classroom, they are aware they are not going to be President.   When dealing with theories of American politics, particularly elite theory, it is nonetheless shocking statement when I say:  none of you are going to be President.  The statement is meant to shock, and get pushed back on, because much of American political socialization, admittedly less so for the less affluent, is told:  anyone can be President!  That is what makes America great!  And, regardless of your politics, Barack Obama’s personal history makes this case nicely.

But he is anomalistic in the political history my students remember.  Since 1992, a Clinton or Bush (sometimes both!) have been on the presidential ballot, or almost achieved the nomination, in every presidential election except for 2012. 

It’s just so obvious.  Can’t we make the farce of meritocracy in American politics just a wee bit less blatant?   Give me and my fellow Political Scientists a fighting chance would ya? 

In the era of Citizens United, where almost all bets are off and money is political voice, HRC v Jeb is but the cherry on the hierarchical top.  Getting really excited about this race is akin to becoming invested in which Koch brother makes more money or feeling invested in Coke v. Pepsi.  They’re all winning and regular folks getting deeply invested in their game only diverts attention from how wide the array of political talent and potential leaders are but how elitist, corporate, and hereditary the nation’s highest office is.

So, Jeb and Hillary, expect my car’s back bumper to remain free of both your stickers if come 2016 my choices are, essentially,  the same as 1992.  And awfully familiar to what appeared on my ballot in in 1996.  And 2000.  And 2004.  And 2008.

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