Good for the Bushes and the Clintons, but Not Good for America

tags: Hillary Clinton, Bushes, Clintons, political dynasties



Jonathan Zimmerman teaches history and education at New York University. His most recent book is Small Wonder: The Little Red Schoolhouse in History and Memory.

A few years ago, I found myself sitting on an airplane next to a gentleman from Egypt. Talk quickly turned to the upheaval in his country, where the so-called Arab Spring was in full bloom.

"We want a real democracy," he told me, "not like yours." When I pressed him to elaborate, he shot back with a question of his own. "How many times have you voted," he asked, "when someone named 'Bush' or 'Clinton' wasn't running?"

The answer, I sheepishly admitted, was once: in 2008. Before that — going back to 1980, the first year I cast a ballot — every single presidential ticket featured someone from one of those two families.

That's not good for our image overseas, or for our democracy at home. We tell the world that we're a land of opportunity, where anyone can grow up to be the president. Then we limit ourselves to a handful of political dynasties....




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