The revelation that Jeb Bush marked his race/ethnicity on a voter registration form as Hispanic is likely to further the rift between Bush and hardcore conservatives who already have difficulty trusting the former Florida Governor.
After the Monday morning edition of The New York Times reported that Jeb Bush marked down “Hispanic” for his race/ethnicity on a 2009 voter registration form, the fallout started to materialize on blogs and social media almost immediately. As Jason Easley at PoliticusUSA reported, submitting false information on a voter registration form is also a felony.
While it seems unlikely that Bush will actually be prosecuted for falsifying his registration form, his actions could still have serious political consequences, even if they do not result in legal consequences. Not just from liberals who might seize on this opportunity, with good reason, to portray Jeb Bush as dishonest, but also from voices of dissent within his own party.
Even in the best case scenario for Bush, if his error was simply a careless, but unintentional mistake, it is still the type of inaccuracy that could prove politically costly for the former Florida Governor. Bush is already distrusted by the conservative Republican base. Conservatives, in particular, are concerned that he is too soft on immigration.
Right-wing xenophobes have long charged Jeb Bush with pandering to the Hispanic community, instead of standing firm on conservative principles. The Nativist wing of the GOP is likely to see Bush’s blunder, as further evidence that he is bending over backwards to ingratiate himself to Hispanic immigrants, at the expense of white voters.
Bush’s “error” feeds into an existing narrative on the far right that Bush doesn’t stand up for white people enough. For example, in February 2015, a conservative blogger accused Bush of firing Chief Technology Officer Ethan Czahor for “tweeting while White”. The absurd implication was that Czahor was fired not for tweeting racist comments but simply because he was white.
The conservative website Breitbart.com posted a Monday headline titled “Jeb Bush Registered As A Hispanic Voter In 2009”. The piece itself was fairly measured. At one point the author, Charlie Spiering, argued:
Ethnic identity “confusion” can be crippling to a political campaign, especially if it can be demonstrated that it was done for political or societal gain.
However, conservatives remarking in the comment section, sounded a much harsher tone. A person who went by the name “The realpatriot013jrd” commented:
Trying to buy favor with hispanics, Jeb??? ha. You don’t look hispanic…ha. You (sic) pedigree is NOT hispanic, Jeb….how funny and a ”not so subtle” attempt to change your heritage…..
A comment from “BG” simply read:
Well, we all know were Jub (sic) Bush’s loyalties lies and it does not lie with the country of his birth.
Well that’s awkward. A 50 – something year old guy with major identity issues. If he’s white on the outside but brown on the inside, would that make him a “hot pocket?
In right-wing circles, Bush’s apparent attempt to claim himself to be Hispanic is not being well-received. The far right would much rather support a Hispanic candidate trying to pass as an anti-immigrant white guy, like Ted Cruz, than back a white guy trying to pass as Hispanic. Jeb Bush is deeply distrusted by the right-wing of his party. With Bush’s registration blunder exposed, conservative voters will be more convinced than ever that their suspicions surrounding Jeb Bush are justified.
Keith Brekhus is a progressive American who currently resides in Red Lodge, Montana. He is co-host for the Liberal Fix radio show. He holds a Master’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Missouri. In 2002, he ran for Congress as a Green Party candidate in the state of Missouri. In 2014, he worked as a field organizer for Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick’s successful re-election bid in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. He can be followed on Twitter @keithbrekhus or on Facebook.