If you laid out John Ellis Bush’s beliefs (that’s JEB) and policies one by one, they would be rejected by the overwhelming majority of Floridians. Not many people here supported squandering the huge surplus he inherited with billions of tax-cuts for the wealthy and his corporate buddies. Even fewer supported that fact that he did this while cutting education and Medicare spending.
In fact, the vast majority here consistently overrule Jeb at the ballot box on issues as varied as class size to anti-smoking initiatives. But people here still say they love their JEB—by the latest poll: 65%! Offensive when you consider that the overwhelming majority of registered voters here are freakin' Democrats!
People here love the man, but they don’t like what he has done. It’s odd. Not too many in this state can say that his largest agenda, to privatize crucial state services from education to adoption, has been successful. But while he had no problem putting Big Business interests over the public interest, he had no problem injecting himself in the most personal and private decisions of Terry Schiavo’s family. Jeb told us he had to get involved because he was "pro-life". What he didn’t do is explain why he fought so hard to prolong the agony of a brain-dead woman but had no problem cutting chemo-therapy for 26,000 needy Floridians. And Jeb certainly didn’t give much attention to someone whose plight he directly affected with his massive cuts in social services: 5-year old Riyla Wison. She wasn’t discovered missing by the Department of Children and Families until 15 months after she disappeared.
And then there is Jeb’s public education reforms that followers love to tout despite reality, which shows that our schools still rank near the bottom. Even the conservative-leaning Fordham Foundation gave Florida a C for its English standards and an F for its math curriculum. Bush’s revolution essentially consists of requiring teachers to "Teach to the Test" and put every stake, from school grading to grant money, on how kids do on one test (FCAT).
It blows my mind how someone who never went to public school (outside a photo op), was allowed to make such sweeping changes.
Then there is his well-known reputation for fradulent elections, to which Jeb replied that he has no "direct responsibility" for state elections. He’s just the governor.
I can go on about the property insurance debacle, oil drilling, transportation woes, special treatment his daughter received, our sad colleges, corruption, and so on. But this isn’t an article, unlike you might think, to bash Jeb.
This is to bash people like me—Dems. Specifically, Florida Dems.
You can’t expect Jeb to admit he sucks, nor can you wait for the rabid neocon followers to admit anything except that he’s the 2nd Second Coming (after W). No, the people who could have and should have spoken out against JEB and his right-wing disasterous policies were us--and we were mostly complacent for the past 8 years.
Now, Democrats are by nature much more fair in their assesments—we don’t automatically hate and seek to destroy those in power who don’t share our party. Yet I think we gave Jeb way too many passes.
Maybe we were too focused on stopping the bigger menance--his brother. Maybe Dems running for state office didn’t want to offend the overwhelming GOP majorities in both state houses by being too hard on Jeb. Or maybe they are afraid that the people will say how dare we attack a hero on hurricane preparedness. Now, I will be the first to admit he is better than his brother, because Jeb is at least intelligent and competent. He did his job during the hurricane season of 2004, which is the minimum to be expected of your state leader. However, because his brother botched up disaster relief at such a colossal level the following year, Jeb is undeservedly hailed as some sort of miracle worker.
For whatever reasons, Florida Dems just never went after Jeb the way they should have. (Yes, some did, but they were the exceptions). As a result, people think he is now a shoe-in for veep. And if he wants to run for president, he will most likely win the primary. He is adored by the right-wing, heads a major swing state, and, since the Dems here were complacent, will be touted as one who can win the general election as a wolf in moderate's clothing.
Luckily, if he does run, I don’t think he will win. Even if he wins Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio have had enough of the Bush name, as well as the majority of the nation. But if he does run, my fellow Florida DEMS, we need to go after him and HARD! We live here, we know what he is really like, and we have the credibility because we know what he has done to our state more than anyone. We have both the right and obligation to step forward and say NO MORE!
Better late than never...