Matt Towery

Speaker John Boehner finally declared this week that President Obama's goal over the next few years is to "annihilate" the GOP. Wow, he finally figured that out. And to reporters about his ticket's defeat in November, Rep. Paul Ryan stated that there was a failure to turn potential Republican voters out -- again, another "ah ha" moment.

What is really going on is that the more old-time Republican Establishment is starting to realize that simply playing the same old game against a new, brilliant and Democratic political juggernaut led by their symbol of success, President Obama, will likely yield the same results.

To Ryan's credit, he told the same group this week that what Republicans need is more "Jack Kemp." And Ryan is so right.

Remember, Kemp was a "conservative opportunity" Republican with an always positive attitude, which he carried with him as secretary of housing and urban development under President George H.W. Bush. Kemp reached his political pinnacle as the vice presidential nominee running with former Sen. Bob Dole in 1996.

Kemp was added to the ticket in part because of his long history of advocating tax cuts, in part to advance the concept of supply-side economics. Dole and Kemp had clashed in earlier years, with Dole viewed as the more traditional "Establishment-type" and Kemp the populist conservative who had a strong interest in issues that were typically not part of the GOP agenda, such as the health of cities, moving those in public housing toward ownership and responsibility for their homes, and eliminating weapons and drugs from the hands of the criminals who in urban areas possessed them.

When it came to issues such as immigration and gay rights, Kemp was more of a pragmatist. In June of 2006, Kemp warned in a column, "Failure to address the legitimate issue of immigration reform could also do great harm to the Republican Party."

He advocated both the tough approach of truly enforcing the borders while at the same time crating some form of status for those already present.

Now conservatives such as Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida are increasingly proposing such moves in order to finally fix an issue that is costing the nation lost tax revenue and Republicans votes among a growing Hispanic/Latino electorate who once viewed the Republican Party as a vehicle to help lift them up.


Matt Towery

Matt Towery is a former National Republican legislator of the year and author of Powerchicks: How Women Will Dominate America.
 
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