Wanted: real Republican ideas
Ever since the Democrats completely took over Washington, the Republicans have been groping for ways to be a substantive counterweight to the progressive agenda being pushed by President Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. And they've had a devil of a time. Their latest effort is dubbed "Commitment to America." For the sake of the republic, I hope they succeed this time.
One-party rule in government isn't inherently bad. But it can be a nightmare for the party in power and the people it governs when the opposition party is weak and bereft of substantive ideas to serve as a credible counterbalance. Without a worthy sparing partner, the majority runs the risk of growing complacent and heedless of alternative solutions and ideas that could lead to better outcomes for the people. The Republican Party today is not that worthy sparing partner.
House Minority Leader Eric Cantor's (R-Va.) "National Council for a New America" held such promise when it was announced a year ago. “The National Council for a New America will engage with and empower the American people to develop innovative solutions that meet the serious challenges confronting our country," Cantor said in the press release heralding the group's formation. "It is the right time to begin a thoughtful conversation about the future of this country.”
That effort was officially suspended yesterday.
This is hardly surprising since all the hopeful talk about "engag[ing] in a conversation with America that seeks to remove ideological filters, addresses the realities we are confronting, and speaks to the challenges our citizens are facing" gave way rather quickly to "No!" It's only visible effort was a rather awkward town hall meeting at an Arlington pizza joint.
Enter the Tea Party movement last month (April 15 to be exact) with its "Contract from America." Ryan Hecker came up with 10-point plan by soliciting ideas from people on the Internet and then having them vote on which ideas should be included. The No. 1 edict is "Protect the Constitution." No. 2 is "Reject Cap & Trade." No. 7 is "Defund, Repeal, & Replace Government-run Health Care." No. 9 is "Stop the Pork." In short, it's all over the place. Perhaps that's why the GOP leadership prefers to say nice things about it rather than sign the pledge to follow it.
This is where the "Commitment" comes in. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was picked by House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) to lead this effort, and he's using the same method Hecker did for the Contract from America. Of course, I thought this was a not-so-subtle attempt by the GOP to co-opt the Tea Party effort. One minute of research pulled me off the grassy knoll a little bit. McCarthy is just going back to his roots. He employed this Internet method when putting together the Republican Party's platform in 2008. but that didn't stop me from asking McCarthy's spokesman if they were out to big foot the Tea Party. "We love what the Tea Party Patriots produced, but we're not looking to co-opt them," Brendan Buck told me. "We're looking to walk amongst them and ensure their ideas are a part of this project."
I pray that all of the ideas that become a part of the "Commitment" are good ones that are light on the GOP talking points and heavy on substance. I want the Republicans to give the Democrats a real run for their money on solutions to the problems facing the country. A real debate over real ideas is good for both parties. And, ultimately, it's good for the American people.
| May 7, 2010; 6:12 AM ET
Categories: Capehart | Tags: Jonathan Capehart
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