DETROIT—Jeb Bush just finished a meh-worthy speech, reading off a TelePrompTer with the enthusiasm of an asparagus-eating toddler. Two levels below the ballroom, in a windowless office at the foot of a rickety spiral staircase, the former Florida governor now is animated—almost shouting. "This is a spectacular!"
He smiles, eyes wide and fists pumping. "This is a brilliant idea!" The subject of his sudden enthusiasm is a group of Detroit parents who've developed an online rating system of the city's public schools—think of it as yelp.com for education. "Young parents got together and they have created a system by which they crowd-source, effectively, a school. They evaluate how a school works from the perspective of moms and dads," Bush tells me. "It's sincere. It's real."
This is Bush at his wonky and provocative best. Removed from the stodgy theater of the Detroit Economic Club, the soon-to-be Republican presidential candidate recounts his visit Wednesday morning to a hip new manufacturing company, Shinola, and a business incubator called Detroit Creative Corridor Center.
At those stops, Bush saw the manifestation of his vision for post-industrial America—a time when 20th century institutions are completely disrupted and refitted; when the so-called shared economy gets folded into a tech-juiced new economy; and when government helps spur innovation, or gets out of the way. After his address, in the bowels of an aging Cobo Hall on the banks of the Detroit River, Bush tries to explain it to me.