Jeb looks for GOP ‘shadow government’

JEB LOOKS FOR GOP ‘SHADOW GOVERNMENT’…. As Republicans continue to ponder how best to pull themselves out of a ditch, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) has a few ideas.

In an interview with Newsmax, Bush argued, predictably, that the United States remains “basically a center-right country,” but urged the GOP to avoid becoming “the old white-guy party.” He acknowledged Obama’s victory, but chalked it up to the Democrat’s fundraising advantage, and insisted that Republicans should avoid the temptation to embrace a “Democratic-lite” agenda.

Most importantly, though, the president’s brother has a strategy in mind for the GOP congressional minority

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush … recommends that Republicans create a “shadow government” to engage Democrats on important issues as the incoming Obama administration seeks to enact its agenda. […]

The party should establish a loyal opposition and “organize ourselves in the form of a shadow government” that would address key issues, providing the public with “a loftier debate about policy” rather than mere partisanship.

On the surface, this sounds reasonable enough. In parliamentary systems, this is the standard approach taken by the minority party — in effect, the minority tells the voters, “If we were governing, here’s what we’d be doing right now.” It presents voters with clear choices about the differences between the parties, which tends to be a good thing.

There are, however, a couple of problems here. For one thing, Republicans don’t have a policy agenda. For the GOP to engage in a “loftier debate about policy,” the party would have to care about substance and have specific policy alternatives. Since Republicans have neither, Jeb’s recommendation seems a little silly.

For another, there’s the minor detail that Democrats purportedly hope to govern by reaching out to Republicans to build consensus. As Digby noted, “[I]f only one side sees the system as being fundamentally a partisan activity and the other side doesn’t they end up working at cross purposes.”

Which means that if the GOP takes Jeb’s advice, the two sides will, once again, be playing by different rules.

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