The "what we believe" statement up on the Web site of Jeb Bush's new "Right To Rise" political action committee is worth a look for a lot of reasons, but one of them is the way it shows how the ideas of conservative policy intellectuals filter into the language of actual, real-life politicians.
The first sentence of the statement is, "We believe passionately that the Right to Rise — to move up the income ladder based on merit, hard work and earned success — is the central moral promise of American economic life." The phrase "earned success" should be familiar to readers of this site from our coverage of the president of the American Enterprise Institute, Arthur Brooks, who possibly coined but definitely popularized the term.
The next sentence of the statement is, "We are optimists who believe that America's opportunities have never been greater than they are right now." That optimism note should be familiar to readers of this site from our coverage of the editor of the New York Sun, Seth Lipsky, who wrote an op-ed piece about the idea for the New York Post that has also been echoed, not only by Jeb Bush, but in the words of Scott Walker and Ted Cruz.
The fourth sentence of the statement begins, "Millions of our fellow citizens across the broad middle class feel as if the American Dream is now out of their reach." This "middle class" theme, which I'm not a particular fan of, comes from Peter Wehner, a George W. Bush administration official who wrote about it in a book called Room to Grow that was brought out by Yuval Levin and the YG Network.
Finally, the concluding sentence, "Our nation can be dynamic and prosperous again, if we join together and fight for every American's Right to Rise." This notion of dynamism is a favorite of Virginia Postrel, a libertarian author and speaker who was editor of Reason magazine and who maintains a blog called dynamist. It was also a staple of the New York Sun newspaper, so much that at the suggestion of one of its shrewdest proprietors, the paper sought, not always successfully, to find at least one page-one news article every day that would showcase the "dynamism" of New York City, the capital of American capitalism. If one were ever to publish an anthology of the New York Sun, one might want to make a chapter out of those "dynamism" stories, or perhaps even an entire book out of them.
As Thomas Sowell has pointed out, intellectuals can be a malevolent force, too. Jeb Bush certainly isn't the only politician to learn from them, and time will tell whether his presidential campaign is a winner. But as a believer in the power of ideas and of language, I've got to say I find Mr. Bush's statement an encouraging indication that he's alive to some of the ideas percolating on the center-right and that he isn't going to run a campaign that's strictly either a negative attack on Obama or a technocratic, competence/incompetence-based argument.