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
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.
More importantly, both Ryan and Rubio seem to represent a new
breed of Republican leaders who want to double down on the GOP's devotion
to issues of fiscal responsibility, but couple them with policies that
offer opportunity and hope to a large number of people who now view
themselves as part of "the middle class" that clearly is drifting in the
direction of not only a liberal but, in many ways, increasingly socialist
Some very strong conservatives have urged that even Republicans
engage the White House and Democrats in Congress with blunt talk, spelling
out clearly what they observe, pulling no punches. And it appears, with
Boehner's declaration as to President Obama's intentions, even the
"Establishment Republicans" might be reaching that point. They replaced
the word "progressive," which is increasingly being used to label
President Obama, with the more accurate label of "moderately socialist,"
when describing current Democratic policy in Washington.
But if Republicans are to start stating the obvious about the
president's goals of redistributing wealth and resources through various
policies and legislation, they must offer an attractive alternative.
That means by its very necessity embracing the needs of the
nation's cities, finding a way to provide a path toward some form of legal
worker status that requires paying taxes and no shortcut to actual
citizenship. And, most importantly, that requires explaining how the
Republican policies of lower taxes, less government and defense of
personal liberties actually benefit the many voters who in November either
chose Obama out of fear, on a coin toss or simply decided not to come out
in support of Gov. Romney.
Republicans need more plain-speaking leaders who fight for
providing opportunity to more people through less government intrusion. In
other words, the Republicans truly do need more Jack Kemps.