The probability of a Bush – Clinton matchup this coming 2016 is increasingly possible. After several weeks of speculation, ex-Florida Governor Jeb Bush declared that he’s keenly exploring a bid for the Republican nomination. On the other hand, Hillary Rodham Clinton also announced her bid for Republican nomination. Both parties are widely being discussed for a second and third round of presidency. Given the recent announcements and speculations, more and more people are beginning to wonder: what do political dynasties play in the US government?
The Founding Fathers of the United States cautioned against the perils of dynastic cycle in American politics. In 1786, Thomas Jefferson wrote to George Washington that “a hereditary aristocracy will change the form of our Government from the best to the worst in the world.” During that time, he mentioned ancestral political rule a “scourge” that had restrained the astounding population in France. Yet, the instances of political dynasty are as old as the United States. In the book America’s Political Dynasties, author Stephen Hess mentioned that no less than 700 families (in which two or way more members) had a job in Congress since 1774 – and it was only during 1966, when the book was initially released.
This can be backed up by the study published in The Review of Economic Studies in 2009 by Ernesto Dal Bo, Pedro Dal Bo, and Jason Snyder that posts comparable suggestions. Particularly, when it comes to Congress, the study concludes that “political power is self- perpetuating,” meaning that the more power one individual holds, the greater the possibility that his/her power will be passed on to his/ her respective family.
Political power in democracies becomes inheritable de facto for reasons other than permanent differences in family characteristics
This highlights that the preference of such individuals is not a result of their skills, but rather “contacts or name recognition may play a role”. It’s true that brand alone won’t win an election, but it sure brings instant name recognition. And so in this era of big, costly campaigns, name recognition is deemed very valuable. Besides, it is obvious that political scions are an advantage over candidates of lesser lineage.
A political pedigree can have its negative sides though. A popular surname sometimes carries sickening associations and the risk of a fatigue factor. Party activists said that Bush name would help Jeb attract early money, talent and supporters around the country. However, Jeb Bush’s brother, George W. Bush, became hugely unpopular at the end of his presidency because of issues concerning the Great Depression and many past controversies; thus, creating a “not-so-good” image on his part. Clinton, a former secretary of state, senator, and first lady, is also threatened by familiarity and some fatigue factor.
Political dynasties impact the US politics in many and various ways. Name recognition and apathy are always present; however, political dynasties come at a cost, such as a higher sense of expectation from the public and possible overfamiliarity factors.
After all, there’s nothing inherently unethical with dynasty politics. However, the current proclivity of American voters to be so indifferent to political dynasties appears to be so connected with their lack of interest in politics and governance.