In a United States that cherishes the stability that typically accompanies a democracy dominated by two political parties, it is best that the two parties be of relatively equal strength, that both represent the American people’s interests.
That said, the unmistakable image of today’s Republican Party is that of a political train wreck. It’s been too long, by its own reckoning, since a Republican candidate for president made it all the way to the Oval Office, and since Mitt Romney was so soundly defeated in November, prominent voices in the GOP have been calling for the party to change its ways.
But not all, and not in the same way. In fact, one of the most promising Republicans on the national scene, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, declared recently that “we don’t need a new idea. There is an idea. The idea is called America, and it still works.”
Rubio’s “don’t need a new idea” remark apparently didn’t resonate with Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee.
“We know that we have problems. We have identified them, and we’re implementing the solutions to fix them,” Priebus conceded Monday as he released the committee’s report on how to regain the upper hand.
He said he welcomes everyone into the Republican Party, but judging by recent events — for example, Republican speeches in and around Washington — the party’s getting downright rowdy. In fact, referring to the report in his hand, Priebus said: “This is an unprecedented thing, for a national party to put its cards on the table face up. Maybe a few pieces of china needed to be broken.”
Well, if pieces of china aren’t being broken, at least some relationships within the party seem to have been smashed to smithereens. And leading the charge was that darling of the party’s far right wing, freshman Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who recently made headlines by conducting a rare 13-hour filibuster to delay a presidential appointment.
“The GOP of old has grown stale and moss covered,” he asserted to an audience of adoring conservatives. “I don’t think we need to name any names, do we?”
No, because fresh in everyone’s memory were the bitter criticisms of Paul’s filibuster from fellow Republican Sens. John McCain, of Arizona, and Lindsey Graham, of South Carolina, who called Paul’s remarks “ridiculous” and “outlandish.” McCain and Graham have been among the GOP’s harshest critics of President Obama’s performance, by the way.
Former White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said the demographic gap “is a killer” for the party. “It’s going to be very hard for Republicans to win if Republicans don’t do better in many of these communities.”
And former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, often mentioned as a possible presidential candidate, said: “If you’re fortunate enough to count yourself among the privileged, the rest of the nation is drowning. In our country today, if you’re born poor, if your parents didn’t go to college, if you don’t know your father, if English isn’t spoken at home, then the odds are stacked against you.”
He heard only modest applause, a sure sign of deep divisions within the Republican Party, a party that needs to heal its wounds, for America’s sake.
The party’s leaders need to get this train back on track, but it also needs to take it in a new direction.
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