In an interview with the National Review’s Rich Lowry, Jeb Bush confessed to being a fan of Charles Murray’s books. Twice during the interview, the Republican presidential hopeful professed admiration for Murray, citing the controversial author as an influential source for Bush’s own ideas.
When asked if there was anything public officials could do to address family breakdown in America, Bush replied, “absolutely there is”, and then he added, that his views on the question of family dissolution “were shaped a lot” by Charles Murray’s writings. Later in the interview, Jeb Bush again brought up the author, proclaiming proudly:
I like Charles Murray’s books to be honest with you, which means I’m a total nerd I guess.
Although Bush didn’t specify which of Charles Murray’s books he used to shape his views, he must surely be aware of the controversy surrounding Murray’s most well-known book, titled the The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life. The Bell Curve is a pseudo-scientific racist tract that argues that black people are genetically inferior to whites intellectually and that White Americans have more wealth essentially because they are more intelligent than African-Americans.
While Bush may call himself a “nerd” for reading Murray, there are other words that might apply. If he embraces Murray’s bogus scholarship, the operative word might be “racist” or “elitist”, rather than “nerd”. Murray is a staunch opponent of social programs because he argues that they are basically useless, since poor people simply have low IQs limiting the government’s ability to help them. Republican Congressmen Paul Ryan is also a devotee of Murray’s writings, which may explain his burning desire to gut social programs that assist the nation’s poor.
Murray’s ideology is encapsulated pretty well in an article written in the year 2000, where he actually takes conservative Republicans to task for not being more explicitly elitist and racist. Murray wrote then:
In their own way, politicians of the Right are equally in thrall to the egalitarian premise. For example, no major Republican politician is willing to say in public that some of the social problems we most deplore are rooted to some degree in personal deficiencies. Try to imagine a GOP presidential candidate saying in front of the cameras, “One reason that we still have poverty in the United States is that a lot of poor people are born lazy.”
You cannot imagine it because that kind of thing cannot be said. And yet this unimaginable statement merely implies that when we know the complete genetic story, it will turn out that the population below the poverty line in the United States has a configuration of the relevant genetic makeup that is significantly different from the configuration of the population above the poverty line. This is not unimaginable. It is almost certainly true.
While it is no surprise that many conservatives have embraced Murray’s phony science to justify their racial prejudices, it is a bit disconcerting that Jeb Bush, the supposed moderate in the Republican field, is one of them. Murray’s old-fashioned racism, masquerading as social science, should be soundly rejected by anyone enacting social policy.
Voters should have no issue with electing a “nerd” to be President, but choosing an elitist or a racist is not an option. While Jeb Bush may not view himself as an elitist or a racist, if he takes his cues from Charles Murray, his policies will demonstrate that he is both. America cannot afford to give him that opportunity.
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.