By Petra HalburSpecial to the Chronicle
“I don’t wake up thinking I’m the ‘chosen one,’” former Florida Governor Jeb Bush said in response to being asked why he isn’t campaigning for president. And while his claim that he is not the ‘chosen one’ for the presidency is evident in his non-candidacy this year, it cannot be denied that his family name excites a mix of presidential feelings. Bush appeared as the first of three Republicans invited to speak in the University’s debate series leading up to October 16. Bush briefly talked abo
ut the excitement surrounding presidential debates, having followed his father and brother’s campaigns, and called the scenes as “an electric kind of environment.” Known for his lenient stance on immigration and for his work on education reform, Bush also addressed both topics in his speech on Wednesday at the Playhouse. “The United States has lost its way,” Bush said about America’s hard-line stance on immigration. He argued that we need a more hospitable policy, likening the current process of immigrating legally to “going through a Kafka novel and never leaving.” He does admit that border control could be better, but insists that we, as a country, should embrace immigration and acknowledge it is vital to America’s future economic growth. Brian Walker, a graduate student working on his master’s in industrial and organizational psychology, asked Bush about college affordability after the speech. Walker said he still left the lecture feeling dissatisfied with the strategies Bush presented, which he said were too vague. It’s not just Bush he felt frustrated towards—after six years of education, Walker said he is more cynical about the political process than ever before, adding that both Republicans and Democrats are only “[saying] gold words without getting things done.” The “most sustainable change” to an updated regulatory system—one that could be designed for a twenty-first century economy and could revise America’s energy strategy—would be a reformation of our K-12 education system, according to Bush. “We should all be marching in the streets about this,” Bush said. He added that the implementation of such reforms could result in a stronger America and in the renewal of American optimism. “Europeans used to say to me. . . that Americans were naively optimistic,” said Bush. “No one can say that America is optimistic right now.” Indeed, the pessimism for the future that Bush describes is evident even in our own University body. Anna Davis, a junior graphic design major who did not attend the event, remarked on her own uncertainty for the nation. “There are a hundred issues, but I don’t know if a new president’s going to change anything. There were the same issues in 2008, but I don’t know if anything’s really changed—because it hasn’t,” said Davis, admitting also that, “I’m informed enough to know what’s going to affect me directly, but I definitely don’t know as much as I should.”
With additional reporting by Andrea Ordonez.