Playing with the Big Boys

Politico reports this quote from Newt Gingrich:

The Republican Party right now is like a midsize college team trying to play in the Superbowl.

True, dat.  Gingrich knows why the Republicans got its 1994 mandate: ideas.  Go back to the Contract with America.  I don’t agree with all of it, but it was a clear, actionable plan replete with reformist ideas centered around a resonant theme: government isn’t the solution to the problem, government is the problem.

In 2008 we face a host of issues that Republicans should be able to champion – especially energy independence, free and fair trade, and an intelligent national defense policy.  What we got – across the board – was a bunch of scattered sound bites.  The Contract with America wasn’t some ultra-right-wing set of ideas.  It never mentioned abortion, marriage, religion, or any of the topics that right-wing talk radio keeps hammering on.  It was eminently practical and resonated with the electorate because it seemed principled.

What happened?  The Republicans passed some of the Contract and then got distracted by the witch hunt impeachment of Bill Clinton.  Rather than out-governing Clinton, they lost the focus and became the most overspending Congress in history.  George W. Bush didn’t help matters either.

Republicans are looking every which way for a person to lead their party.  That’s not going to work.  For Republicans to regain the White House, they have to find a set of resonant principles.  From these principles will emerge an appropriate spokesperson.

Who knows, perhaps it’s Newt.

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