While Newt Gingrich is correct in warning that Republicans in Congress face formidable odds in November, his proposed nine-point "action plan" does not measure up as a solution to the crisis.
Some of Newt's assumptions are undeniably sound, such as the folly of hitching congressional campaigns to McCain’s non-existent coattails. And it is true that the Republican Party's crisis is the result of "catastrophic collapse of trust in Republicans." What are missing from Newt's plan are policy measures that match his apocalyptic rhetoric.
Of Newt's nine proposals, only a few attack major problems. Yes, declaring English our official language would be a giant step forward, and educating the public on the freedoms at stake in federal court appointments is a winner. But sound policy ideas alone will not defuse the voter cynicism which overshadows 2008 unless they address the problems that gave rise to the cynicism. I'm sorry to say that many of Newt's proposals seem more designed to help incumbent Republicans fight the do-nothing label than to help mold a bold Republican Party platform.
An obvious issue which offers potential for Republican electoral success is illegal immigration, an issue Gingrich conspicuously ignores. In that telling silence, Gingrich echoes the strange insularity of the party's beltway guns-for-hire. That silence and that absence of bold proposals only reinforce the public distrust Gingrich continually bemoans.
Evidently, Gingrich does not see any "real solutions" to the mess created by decades of open borders and near zero enforcement of our immigration laws. He is wrong: there are real solutions, but they are difficult solutions. Fortunately or unfortunately, reaching the one goal McCain has pledged to take seriously -- achieving secure borders -- will take at least five years of sustained efforts. During that period we can improve enforcement of our employment laws through the E-Verify Program and watch millions of illegal aliens self-deport as their jobs disappear.
It is a mystery why supposedly smart Republican strategists continue to ignore the elementary fact that border security and immigration enforcement have the support of over 75% of the American people. Illegal immigration continues to show up in polls as one of the top issues of concern to voters, and even liberal Democrats must pay lip service to border security. The challenge, of course, is to move from lip service to concrete, meaningful legislation. That is what is known as leadership.