In recent weeks, several leading Republicans have been crying for the ouster of Party Chairman Michael Steele. If Steele is fired or resigns before he completes a critical stabilization plan for the party, it may spell doom for the RNC in 2010 and beyond. Let may say it simply: Steele must be kept in place until there is a clear vision and mandate that is created for the party’s future.
His situation is very reminiscent of what happened to world-class CEO and businesswoman Carly Fiorina in 2005. During the time in which the technology powerhouse Hewlett-Packard felt that they needed to change their image and revitalize their brand, they sought to circumvent the normal painstaking process of self-analysis, restructuring, and rebuilding by bringing in a management superstar – Fiorina. Her academics were impeccable, framed at Stanford, University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, and MIT’s Sloan School of Management. But all of this was inconsequential because the Board of Directors had made an improper assessment of where the business was. Their vision was murky. Their mandate was muddled. Therefore the corporate message was unclear. Thus in a few short years, they fired the woman who once graced the covers of major national periodicals in their name.
If I am correct, the RNC organization must work at reaching an internal consensus of what it means to be a true Republican. They have got to answer the question of how will their values positively affect the nation. Once this is done, a cogent and compelling vision can be crafted.
It is very clear that the GOP leadership has not slowed down and given much thought to its long term problems. Instead, it has reacted to fears about the Obama administration in something of a knee-jerk fashion. Unfortunately, the reactive nature of many of the party’s actions over the last 18 months has earned them the label of being the party of “no.” The party has actually continued in a sharp downward spiral for 2 of the last 2½ years. Only the 6 months under Steele’s leadership has there been any sign of real turn-around. This sign I am referring to is the fact that independent voters seem to be willing to take a chance on Republican candidates again.
To help clarify the GOP situation, let me share five stages of decline articulated by Jim Collins in How the Mighty Fall.
Stage 1: Hubris Born of Success Stage 2: Undisciplined Pursuit of More Stage 3: Denial of Risk and Peril Stage 4: Grasping for Salvation Stage 5: Capitulation to Irrelevance or Death
Fortunately, based on Collins’ research, each step of decline can be reversed by positives steps of action – if implemented in a timely fashion.
Bishop Harry Jackson is chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition and senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, MD, and co-authored, Personal Faith, Public Policy [FrontLine; March 2008] with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.