Jane Chastain is a Southern California-based broadcaster, author and political commentator. Despite her present emphasis on politics, Jane always will be remembered as the nation's first female TV sportscaster, spending 17 years on the sports beat. Jane blogs at JaneChastain.com. She is a pilot who lives on a private runway.More ↓Less ↑
The Republican Party is ailing. Sure, the 2012 presidential election was close, but reality is, the GOP hasn’t won an overwhelming presidential race in 24 long years.
Its illness doesn’t appear to be acute or life-threatening, particularly at the state level where Republicans hold 30 governorships. It’s at the national level where the patient is getting weaker and a sense of hopelessness has set in. This despair can cause a downward spiral, which, if untreated, can lead to a slow, painful death.
The man who holds the GOP’s medical power of attorney is Reince Priebus, the chairman of Republican National Committee. He recently subjected this patient to exploratory surgery, and the results were published for all to see.
The biggest problem with the Grand Old Party isn’t its strong stand on law and order or the moral issues as some have suggested. It’s the second word in its three-word handle. It’s OLD! The brand has grown stale and out-of-touch. Among the words most often used to describe the GOP is that it’s a party of “stuffy old men.”
While Priebus will not dare bring this up, I will. The GOP’s image would improve overnight if members of the House and Senate would elect new leaders. House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell may be nice guys, but they are B-O-R-I-NG!
They also meet the definition of old. Age is not so much a matter of years but energy. McConnell has none, and Boehner has very little. Maybe Boehner leaves it in the (golf course) locker room; it’s hard to stay awake during one of his speeches or TV appearances.
As for McConnell, he is totally expressionless, giving one the impression that he is completely disinterested in what he has to say. If he cares so little about what he is saying, why should we care?
While the president has a bully pulpit, these party leaders have bully pulpits of their own, should they care to use them. They are considered a big catch by producers and can appear on most any newscast or television program any time they want. For the most part, they can’t be bothered. If you can wake these two up long enough to do a speech or TV interview, you end up wishing you hadn’t.
Imagine how the GOP’s image would change if two of the GOP’s young guns were put in charge!
The second part of the problem is the message. The average person isn’t getting it.
Dr. Ben Carson, the head of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins who burst into the nation’s consciousness after his rousing speech at the National Prayer Breakfast, hit the nail on the head last weekend at CPAC. Carson said, “You talk to the average person and they may be able to tell you who won ‘Dancing with the Stars’ or who won the football game, but they can’t tell you anything that’s important.”
Dr. Carson is no spring chicken, but he has energy to spare – and it’s contagious. He is getting ready to retire from medicine, but one gets the feeling he is about to perform major surgery on the Republican Party. Some, like myself, would like to see him make a run for the White House, while others think he should pay some political dues by running for a lessor office.
Dr. Carson has something much more valuable that political experience. He has “real world” experience. Furthermore, he has spent a considerable amount of time studying this country’s problems and has laid out his prescription for solving them in the latest of his four books: “America the Beautiful: Rediscovering What Made This Nation Great.” To quote Carson, “It’s not brain surgery!”
More importantly, Dr. Carson can explain these things to the average person in a few short sentences that both enlighten and inspire, something the current GOP leaders are unable to do.
Last week, while dinning at an upscale restaurant, I met a thoughtful Hispanic waiter who told me that he became a citizen under Ronald Reagan. My husband made the comment that Ronald Reagan was a Republican and asked him about his vote in the last election. The waiter answered, “I voted for Barack Obama because he reduced my home mortgage.”
I didn’t lecture him about the problems with government handouts. Instead, I reached him by talking about his goals for his children.
All parents want to give their children a better life, and our young people want their shot at the “American Dream.” This is where the GOP must begin.