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August 18, 2011

A Call to Republicans

Patricia A. Kelly

President Barack Obama, ending a tour of Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois yesterday in a new, U.S. owned, $1.1 million bus, stated in Minnesota that it’s not election season yet, while at the same time criticizing Republican candidates for saying they wouldn’t vote for a financial deal that includes tax increases.


He’s not campaigning, of course. It’s government business – connecting with the people.


President Obama is not doing well in the polls right now, having most recently suffered from the debt ceiling crisis. Both sides seem disappointed in his leadership. One liberal supporter in this writer’s personal poll said he should have invoked the Fourteenth Amendment and raised the ceiling himself, even risking a constitutional crisis and impeachment. All expressed disappointment in his leadership during this crisis.


He is vulnerable, although there is plenty of time for that to change. There’s a window of opportunity for those who believe the country would be better off without his re-election.


Unlike President Obama, who is possibly just visiting his constituents to be a good, friendly president, the Republicans have begun to campaign.  The Iowa Straw Polls of last week, although discounted by many, caused former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty to drop out of the race.


There are 18 declared Republican candidates now, with eight potentials listed on the Republican National Committee website. Their range is wide. They run the gamut from Andy Martin, a “birther,” who thinks President Obama is a Muslim, to credible people, such as Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Michele Bachman, Herman Cain, Ron Paul and Rick Perry.


The Republican Party has been a big disappointment on some levels, the most recent example being refusal by many to consider proposals that would simplify the tax code, definitely a potential step in the direction of smaller government.  Removal of deductions should be gradual, of course, but simplification and a return to more of a free market would benefit the country. That’s what Congress is supposed to be in Washington to do.


If the Republican Party wants to win the presidency, now would be the time to get serious and really think things through.


The primaries are the most important elections, maybe in all elections, but definitely in the upcoming presidential race.


The only way the Republican Party can win is to field a credible, electable ticket. America won’t elect a “corporate” Republican whose life has been spent protecting the big boys, nor, let’s hope, a radical conservative who believes that his ideology is the only way for everyone, and is willing to limit personal freedom.


Many mainstream Americans are quite upset with the direction of government in America over the past several years.  Both President George W. Bush and President Obama have been a disappointment, and we’re still looking for substantive change. Many think the government should behave the way they do, maintaining a balanced budget unless there is an emergency, and staying out of other people’s business. We are a multi-cultural society founded on freedom of religion, and that‘s not going to change.


We can only hope that the Republican Party can come up with someone capable of enlightened leadership, who is knowledgeable about government, finance and foreign policy.


One gubernatorial or congressional term, or a law degree, or some good ideas, or the ability to make a good speech, does not a good president make. Of the present 18 candidates for the Republican nomination, less than a third have resumes that could make them credible, and several of those have issues that could haunt them during the election campaign.


There’s a whole country out there. Some are conservative, some liberal, and some in between. They need to see clearly what the election could mean for them, and for the country’s relationship with the world.  They need to feel included in the picture painted by any credible candidate. Most of them believe in fiscal responsibility, religious freedom, personal freedom, military strength, as well as financial independence from the rest of the world.


The Republican Party should unite around core values right now. Then a leader who reflects these can be chosen. Whatever this person’s color, religion, gender or sexual orientation, he or she should be qualified for the job, as President Obama was not, unfortunately for him and for us.


It’s time for Republicans to pull together for the right reasons, to let go of some of their differences, unite around core values and move forward. The principles of conservatism, not extremism or self aggrandizement, should rule.


Do your homework, boys and girls, and play nicely together. Good luck.


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