If you’re feeling sorry for Jeb Bush after Wednesday night’s CNBC debate, don’t. His defenestration by Marco Rubio should make even those who support neither of them for president smile. It’s a sign that maybe, just maybe, the system still works.
Were America’s presidential elections more democratic, Jeb would never have been a serious candidate to begin with. From the beginning, the strategy behind his candidacy had little to do with actual voters. As Politico reported, it was to leverage his father and brother’s fundraising network to get donors to “write the biggest checks you can and create a massive pile of cash to scare away other candidates.” In January, Jeb launched his campaign by creating a Super PAC designed to raise unlimited amounts of money from the super rich. For seven months, he maintained this “laser focus” on money, holding fundraisers that reached $100,000 per person. All the while, he lied to journalists, telling them he hadn’t decided whether to run because admitting the truth would have made it illegal for him to solicit these vast sums.
But from early on, actual voters resisted. A Bloomberg poll in April found that 42 percent of potential Republican primary voters said they would never vote for Jeb while only 14 percent said they would seriously consider him. In an Iowa focus group in May, a retired saleswoman named Lucy said America “should not be run like a family business.” A retired teacher named Craig said, “It’s just such a negative connotation when you see that Bush name, that people get, they get turned off.”