This past Friday, Ring of Fire’s Mike Papantonio appeared on MSNBC’s The Ed Show to discuss the GOP’s latest attempt to rebrand themselves. In a series of new ads, the Republican Party recruited Jeb Bush and Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal to appear as the “new” face of the Party, ignoring the fact that both Bush and Jindal are old school members of the Grand OLD Party.
During the segment (which can be viewed here), Papantonio brought up an issue that outraged conservatives: Jeb Bush’s history of anti-minority statements. Conservative trolls took to Twitter to attack Papantonio’s claims, refusing to accept the evidence that was prevented to them, and instead resulting to personal attacks that were more suited for a schoolyard playground than in an open political discussion.
The reason these facts about Bush’s past enraged the right wing so dearly is because Bush is their only candidate for 2016 at the moment. Chris Christie has fallen from grace, Marco Rubio is too extreme for moderate Republicans, and Scott Walker would be chewed up and spit out if he ever tried to campaign outside of his home state of Wisconsin. Bush was their only safe bet for 2016, and they will fight with all they’ve got to prevent his ugly history of racism and anti-minority political statements from coming back to the surface.
Here is what Jeb Bush’s staunchest supporters want us to forget:
Let’s start in the year 2000, when Jeb Bush, then-Governor of Florida, managed to get 12,000 mostly-minority voters purged from the voting rolls in his state. He did this by wrongly identifying these eligible voters as convicted felons. As Ari Berman pointed out in Rolling Stone, Bush attempted to use this same technique in 2004 to give his brother Florida’s electoral votes, but public outcry prevented a second purge of minority voters.
A few years later, Bush set his sights on younger minority citizens, specifically third graders. The state of Florida had been faced with a problem in their test scores for fourth grade students – they were falling significantly below an acceptable level for the state. Rather than investing in textbooks or tutors or more teachers, Bush decided that the easiest thing to do would be to keep minority students out of the fourth grade. He did this by forcing thousands of minority third grade students to repeat that grade, preventing them from “dragging down” the fourth graders’ test scores.
If you travel back even further, you can see that Bush made his anti-minority stances clear during his campaign for Florida governor. From On The Issues:
“His appearances became revival meetings.and as he went from country club to country club telling stories about [welfare fraud] to his all-white audiences they would shake their heads along with him, conjuring up their own image of what the lazy welfare mother looked like, and the color of her skin.” During his campaign Bush openly espoused a conservative “constrain the beast” philosophy toward government. He proposed to dismantle the State Department of Education and to refuse federal money for welfare. He would have forced mothers and children off welfare after 2 years, with no provision for job training or child care beyond the small amount available at the time.
But it didn’t end there:
During his 1994 run, he made welfare a main issue in his campaign, vowing to get tough on recipients of public assistance–even if it meant, he said at one point, having the state take away the children of parents who were too lazy to find a job. At event after event, Jeb talked about the welfare mom who, given all the various freebies available to her like Aid to Families with Dependent Children and Medicaid and so forth, was pulling down an extravagant $15,000 a year in benefits.
To reiterate: Jeb Bush toyed around with the idea of taking children away from parents that HE believed were too lazy. And make no mistake, when Republicans attack social welfare programs, they are using it as a disguise to attack minorities.
There is nothing “new” about Jeb Bush’s Republican Party, in spite of what those new ads want us to believe. Bush represents the anti-worker, anti-minority, anti-women wing of the anti-everything Republican Party, and the evidence of this is readily available to anyone who takes the time to actually look for it.
Farron Cousins is the executive editor of The Trial Lawyer Magazine. Follow him on Twitter @farronbalanced.