Republicans should assemble a bipartisan group of former members of Congress, such as Georgia Democrat Sam Nunn and Missouri Republican John Danforth. They would be commissioned to draft a bipartisan team to find solutions to common problems and challenges, such as a general framework for when American forces would be committed abroad and for what purposes. The team could also attack poverty in ways politicians have not, largely because each side is beholden to its "base," which won't let them stray far from past practices.
They can start by considering the ideas of this year's Nobel Peace Prize winner, Muhammad Yunus. Yunus, a Bangladeshi banker, founded and heads Grameen Bank, which offers "micro-credit" to the very poor. Since 1983, when the bank was founded, more than half of its borrowers have climbed out of poverty.
In a recent Wall Street Journal column, Yunus expresses a philosophy that sounds Republican. He offers, "small loans packaged with practical business and social advice." The Democratic Party philosophy is to give the poor more government aid. Republicans, when they think of the poor, believe they should emerge from poverty on their own initiative. With micro-credit, Yunus says the poor become self-sufficient and acquire dignity because they must repay the loans. He says nearly 99 percent of the loans are repaid. If Yunus can make it work in Bangladesh, it should work in America.
Republicans need to try something dramatic that will demonstrate success and communicate to the public whose interests they actually serve. If they do lose their majority next month, but learn the greater lesson that power should be a means to success, not an end in itself, they will not be the first party or person to learn more from failure than from success.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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