American Dynasties

Political guru Michael Barone has an interesting column today about the recent pattern of the American electorate to prefer names they know. If Hillary Clinton is elected in 2008 (God forbid), our last four presidents will have been named, in order: Bush, Clinton, Bush, Clinton. If she finishes one term, there will be 24-year-old Americans who have never known a president who wasn't named Bush or Clinton.

Republicans appear to be more prone to this dynastic tendency. Consider the GOP tickets of the last thirty years:

1976 Ford-Dole
1980 Reagan-Bush
1984 Reagan-Bush
1988 Bush-Quayle
1992 Bush-Quayle
1996 Dole-Kemp
2000 Bush-Cheney
2004 Bush-Cheney

Someone named Bush or Dole has been on the ticket for every one of the last eight elections. People keep tossing out the name Jeb Bush for 2008, so the trend could even continue. Senator Elizabeth Dole could always get drafted if the GOP needs a woman on the ticket.

Barone says this apparent nepotism is not entirely a bad thing, and he makes a good point. If you own a business and need to hire someone for an important position, it is always nice to know their family. Why? Because our family background says a lot about what kind of person we are. It is not a perfect indicator by any means - every family has black sheep and many children grow up to rebel against their parents. Nevertheless, knowing the candidate's family still gives us valuable information.

Personally, I'd like to see us go without a president for awhile. Just leave the Oval Office vacant and see if anyone notices a difference. We might even be better off.

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