Seeking Leaders

Elected to Congress in 1990, Congressman John Boehner (R-OH) rose to power as a member of the Gang of Seven and has since served House Republican Conference Chairman, Speaker of the House, and Republican Majority Leader.

I live in southwest Ohio, but not in his district. Representative Boehner occasionally submits to the Cincinnati Enquirer and appears with the Cincinnati broadcast media; thus allowing me to notice his words and actions during nonelection times, during the campaign season, and during the post-election aftermath. He wrote for this past Sunday’s Cincinnati Enquirer, so I’m using his own text to ask him questions. Several times I will use other pertinent quotes.

“President-elect Barack Obama’s election symbolizes the hunger for change the American people so deeply feel with respect to national politics – a hunger that transcends party and ideological lines.” Representative Boehner, how do you plan to transcend party and ideological lines when your PAC is one of the largest in Congress and you speak more party-first comments than country first?

“It’s time for the losing to stop. And my commitment to you is that it will,” For those who don’t know, a seven-term congressman in the district adjacent to Boehner’s in GOP-dominant southwestern Ohio lost.

Mr. Boehner, so how does our “hunger that transcends party and ideological lines” fit into your earlier comments about wanting to lead the rebuilding of the Republican Party and your criticism of the president-elect’s section of White House chief of staff?

“This is an ironic choice for a President-elect who has promised to change Washington, make politics more civil, and govern from the center.”

“America remains a center-right country.” So Representative Boehner, how do you tend to lead a party for center-right America when you own party members didn’t really support its own center-right candidate?

Congressman, I must respectfully interject a related question here. Center-right and center-left one major thing in common, and that’s center. The both power wings of your party, the staunch conservatives and the Christian wing, are well known as uncompromising. As a party leader, what do you do?

“I’ve urged my Republican colleagues to work with me to renew the fight for smaller, more accountable government, and renew it we must.” You were elected to Congress in 1990. To renew a fight also means it ceased. When and why did your party stop fighting for those principles?

“Republicans stand ready to work with Obama for reforms that address the concerns of the American people and reflect their center-right priorities.” Representative Boehner, how do you plan to represent center-right America with neither of the leading contenders for your party’s number 2 and number 3 in the House being center-right? (A staunch conservative (Cantor – VA) and Christian conservative (Pence – IN)

“Obama has sketched a troubling policy roadmap that will be run through a Congress that has been purchased powerful left-leaning special interest groups. … there is a danger that the potential for cooperation could be poisoned by divisive actions by Democrats …. the president-elect’s party to consolidate power by rewarding benefactors, rather than focusing on the priorities of a clear majority of Americans.” Excuse me Representative. Boehner, but I’ll limit myself to two questions on this. (1) How does your politics of fear appease our hunger for politics transcending party and ideological lines? (2) Please tell us about the right-leaning special interest groups that you and your party support.

“Considerable power has been entrusted to the Democratic Party, which now controls two of the three branches of government. The pressure to overreach will be ever-present.” Your opening sentence stated, “The challenges facing our great nation today are significant and arguably unprecedented.” Representative Boehner, your party controlled the same two branches for six years. Besides pointing to the last two years of a Democratic-controlled Congress, what role did those six years play in our current problems?”

One final question Representative Boehner: Several times you mentioned about President-elect Obama crossing the aisle to work with Republicans, yet at no time mentioning your willingness and the willingness of your party to reach out to the president-elect or the Democratic Party. Why not?

Thank you Representative Boehner for your time.

Closing

Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina declared: “We have got to clean up, reform and rebuild the Republican Party before we can ask Americans to trust us again.” Since John Boehner believes Americans already trusts the Republican Party, to me Senator Demint’s comments serve as a starting point that includes across-the-board changes in party leadership.

Through the years, Rep. Boehner has and continues to demonstrate a party-first approach over country first during a time when bipartisan leadership is essential. Thankfully he now faces a challenge from Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA); and time will tell if Mr. Lungren leads from the center. Then again, do congressional Republicans even want the center, let alone move in that direction.

So what about the other side of the aisle? I must also say that if anyone thinks Rep. Pelosi and her fellow Democrats are immune from similar attitudes and behaviors, they too are blind. Surely the same is true about both parties on the senate side of the Capitol.

Yep, although wishful thinking, I would be thrilled to also see new leadership in both parties in the spirit that Representative Boehner mentioned: “The hunger for change the American people so deeply feel with respect to national politics – a hunger that transcends party and ideological lines.”

Election Winners, Losers, and Pressure Points

With Election Day in our rearview mirror, let’s take a look at the current winners, losers, and pressure points of the aftermath. (No particular order)

Winners

  • New Voters: Voting can make a difference
  • Race relations: Historic proportions
  • Barack Obama: Calm, resolve, calculating, and new vision
  • Television viewers: The ads are over!
  • Hillary Clinton: She still has clout
  • Sarah Palin: A partisan rock star
  • Tina Fey: One of the best political impressions of all time
  • John McCain: Still a respected American
  • Internet: Fund raising, information, videos, and bloggers changed the landscape
  • Young Republican Governors: The future of a rebranded party
  • Libertarians: An opportunity to attract mainstream Republicans
  • Members of a lowly-approved Congress who somehow won re-election: Continued job stability during difficult economic times
  • Conservative Talk Show Hosts: A Democratic-controlled Washington provides ample fodder for beating the drums of descent on every move

Losers

  • Joe Lieberman: He’s paying the price for playing both sides of the fence
  • Republican Party: It’s time to rebrand
  • Personal-attack political campaigning: It didn’t work this time, but it will return
  • Sarah Palin: Garnered many negatives
  • Gays and Lesbians: Lost ballot initiatives in several states
  • Internet Users: Shifting through the vest frontier of misinformation
  • Partisans: For continuing to divide us
  • Social Conservatives: But they don’t know it yet
  • The Newly Elected to Capitol Hill: Facing the decision of doing the right thing and not be re-elected, or caving in to be re-elected
  • The Voters: For re-electing their incumbent while blaming congressional woes on others
  • Barack Obama: For inheriting a huge mess and a mountain of expectations on his shoulders

Pressure is On

  • Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi to produce bipartisan results (By the way, I have some waterfront land in Florida for sale)
  • Barack Obama to lead from the center
  • Republican Party: Rebrand to what?
  • New Voters: To stay engaged
  • Republican Congressional leadership to provide not only checks and balances, but to work toward the center (Did I tell you about that land I have for sale?)

Who Really Lost the Election?

Metaphorically visualize political parties as winged insects: each with a body and two wings – wings for power and direction and a body serving as the intellectual compass. These party insects fly in an environment composed of partisans swinging selective swatters and independents wanting a closer look with the hopes of not getting stung.

The Republican insect body contains the traditional Republicans embracing concepts as lower taxes, smaller government, less regulations on business, and strong national defense. These Republicans use their ideals to reject some Democratic proposals, but also attempt to integrate their ideals into the political center. Groups rallying around as trade and immigration also exist.

One wing supporting the body is the staunch right. They passionately embrace the body’s principles, but without the element of comprise. They welcome others to join them, but will not move toward the center. Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Ann Coulter are the talk show celebrity headliners for the staunch right whose ideological theme when they are out of power focuses on political descent.

The other wing attached to the Republican body is the religious right – those with a social agenda based on religion with hopes of changing America into a conservative Christian nation. This is the portion of the party embracing Roman Catholics and Mormons for their political money to finance their social agenda while distaining the theological aspects of both Rome and Salt Lake City. This is the portion of the party embracing Israel as a political entity based on religious convictions while distancing itself from Judaism. This is the divisive portion of the party whose social agenda is paramount to a government philosophy.

The two Republican wings became allies to each other. The religious wing needed a political identity and the conservative wing embraced the dollars the religious right could provide – and together they would fly into power.

The religious right embraced Ronald Reagan’s election; but in the end, they weren’t happy because he didn’t legislatively or judicially deliver their social agenda – nor did Bush-41; so they found an advocate in George W Bush.

One must remember that moderate independents control the swinging political pendulum. Because it was too far left, independent moderates pulled in the opposite direction when electing Ronald Reagan and Bush 41. Since politics swung too far to the right, independent moderates started their pulled toward the center in 2006.

In 2008 independent moderates wanted a change from Bush administration policies, but also saw Senator Obama as too liberal. Independents want fiscal restraint, but anticipate too much spending in a Democratic-controlled Washington. So independents were still ripe for the picking.

Independents have a moral compass. Independents go to church and are not Godless. Independents understand diverse nature of this country, yet struggle with religion’s tenants of diversity, inclusivity, and a selective understanding. Independents struggle with the society issues embraced by the religious wing, but do not believe morality can be mandated through legislative or judicial action.

Ironically, independents embrace many traditional Republican ideals embedded as lower taxes, fiscal restraint, strong national defense, and limiting government intervention. As the Republican Party brought forth Governor Palin to appease both wings, it pushed away independents. As the party described the opposition as socialists, communists, Marxist, and even totalitarian, it pushed away independents. As the party used the politics of fear, it pushed away independents. The party supporting George W Bush had candidate that either wouldn’t or couldn’t distance himself from the president, thus pushed away independents. As the party continuing to promote a Supreme Court dominated by a homogenous ideology, it pushed away independents.

Senator McCain, principled in the insect’s body, was the nominee of party that its wings did not support. After all, this is the same group that trashed him during the 2000 primary. Many held their nose while voted for McCain, and yes, some stayed home as a pouting protest of his candidacy.

In spite of the uphill battle Senator McCain faced, the election was within his reach. Senator McCain made his share of mistakes, and is honorable enough to acknowledge such. He didn’t lose because of money. He didn’t lose because of the media. He didn’t lose because the economy became the central issue over national security. He didn’t lose because personal attacks to the ticket by the leftist bloggers.

The Republican Party lost Election 2008. The Republican Party was out-campaigned. The Republican Party was out promoted. The Republican Party nominated someone that the party wings couldn’t support because he came from the body, not from the wings. The Republican Party lost because the wings didn’t forget the way they trashed Senator McCain during the 2000 primary. The Republican Party lost because many partisans either held their nose while voting for McCain, while others stayed home as a pouting protest of his candidacy. The Republican Party lost because the single-minded nature of the Republican wings doesn’t and didn’t reach out those who actually decided the election – the independent voters. Since only inviting them to join is not enough, independents rejected the divisive side that the Republican Party has become.

The Republican Party is split into the party of less intervention in our life and the party of how we should live our life while being dominated by the special-interest dollars of the latter. This is what voters soundly rejected on Election Day. Michael Tanner, a senior fellow at the right-leaning think tank the Cato Institute, confirms the divide when by saying, “It’s going to be very ugly on the Republican side. The Republicans are split into clear factions who will blame each other for the second defeat in two years and try to seize dominance of the party.”

Although it is time for Republican rebranding, the wings continue to drive further to the right for a 2012 thumping. Maybe now is the time for a schism with one side joining forces with the Libertarian Party because room exists of a viable third party in our political landscape. If so, which wing moves and whose money moves?

It’s time for the insect’s body to release the developing party’s reformers whose job will be to lead the metamorphosis of a new and inclusive coalition of traditional Republican ideals grounded in running government without running lives: a party powered by the principles and intellect within the body, not the divisive nature of the wings; a party with dominated by a government agenda, not a social one.

Republicans will return to power, but the independent moderates will decide when the brand is acceptable.

It Didn’t Take Long to Begin

Seven days ago, our system of democracy spoke. Since then, our system continues to demonstrate switching from the gears of the campaign’s stones and poison arrows to a peaceful transition of power.

Our economy faces many perils and uncertainties. Our international standing is very low. We are fighting wars on two fronts. We also seek energy independence, improving education, and attacking health care insurance. With tough times ahead, President-elect Obama seeks united bridges for a positive future. Senator McCain reminds us that we are Americans first.

Meanwhile, all of this happened (and certainly more) since the election. (All of these examples are true.)

  • Conservative talk radio is leading the bashing of the president-elect’s any and every move
  • Partisans are denouncing the results, pointing fingers, and blaming the media to being preparing for 2012
  • Some people are preparing for the Apocalypse as their preachers are using the election as one of the dominos aligned to end the world
  • In order to help them with the approaching fears that the election bestows on us, some seek help and guidance from clergy, psychologists, psychiatrists, and support groups
  • A few have placed their home for sale as the first step in leaving the country
  • Others are proclaim a race war in the foreseeable future

No question, we are in turbulent waters, and tomorrow may bring rougher waters. Change isn’t gradual, but is preceded by difficulty. Even as we elected new leadership last week, the problems still exist. November 4, 2008 didn’t correct anything. The problems still exist.

Yet in our time of need, some continue to pound the drums of descent. Others continue to preach the politics of fear. Many others listen and buy into the descent and fear. Since these are the same Republicans abandoning their party’s nominee from the start, why should they listen to his reminder that we are first and foremost Americans? After all, they are Republicans first because they know what is best for all of us. Just ask them.

History is Against Palin in 2012

Now that the election is over, political pundits are looking ahead to 2012 – and Sarah Palin is central to that discussion. Granted, Governor Palin energized the Republican base. She’s young, ambitious, and has gained much experience and exposure since vaulting into the national spotlight. Given the way she attracts crowds, some call her the Republican Rock Star.

On the other hand, historical precedence indicates that the future success for the vice presidential nominees isn’t a prime road to the Oval Office. Consider the following facts.

  • There have been 34 presidential elections since 1876
  • 73 tickets received electoral votes
  • Since 7 tickets were incumbents, that leaves 66 different VP candidates
  • 5 of the 66 VP candidates assumed the presidency due to death (Arthur, T Roosevelt, Collidge, Truman, LB Johnson)
  • 1 sitting VP won an election (GHW Bush 1988)
  • 3 sitting VPs lost an election as the nominee (Nixon 1960, Humphrey 1968, Gore 2000)
  • 1 former VP latter returned as the nominee and won (Nixon 1968)
  • 2 former VPs latter returned as the nominee and lost (Mondale 1984)
  • 1 losing nonincumbent VP nominee returned as the presidential nominee and lost (Dole 1976/1996)
  • 1 losing nonincumbent VP nominee returned as the presidential nominee and won (FDR 1920/1932)

She will be remembered and be an important face within Republican circles for a long time. If she desires a future in Washington, she will use the next two years to raise funds and increase her knowledge.

On the other hand, her high negative rating will be forever stick with many. She is linked to political ideals that was soundly defeated – ideals that are not culturally inclusive; ideals dividing society; ideals without compromise.

So as the discussion about the rebranding of the Republican Party, many partisans still see Sarah Palin as the guiding light. There goes the rebranding idea!

If mainstream America is center-right, rebranding must move toward the center – a movement that the Republican Right is unwilling to do. A 2012 Palin-led ticket may energize the base; may continue to draw large crowds of partisans, but will be doomed for failure because it does not reach to the center to attract independent moderates.

If she wants to be in Washington, say hello to Senator Palin. So who will be the next Republican in the White House? The independent moderates will decide both who and when.