Henry Ford for GOP chairman
Henry Ford Sr. once said, "What's right about America is that although we have a mess of problems, we have great capacity of intellect and resources to do something about them." Having been a Republican presidential nominee (1916) and a Democratic senate candidate (1918), Ford's support of either party might be challenged today. The Democrats are the party of emotion and moral superiority. The Republicans are the party of not being Democrats.
As a conservative, I want to believe that there is still great intellectual capacity in the GOP. Unfortunately, it appears that the Republican Party has stopped representing the conservative view and now is the party of the terminally upset. In a June 2009 poll by the Gallup organization respondents identified Rush Limbaugh, Dick Cheney and Newt Gingrich as the primary voices of the party. This might be Glenn Beck and Liz Cheney today (Newt seems to always have a seat at this table.) Regardless, it is clear that the identity of the Republicans has been co-opted from the voice of rationality to the voice of anti-government.
As conservatives, we seem to forget that Barack Obama is not only the head of the Democratic Party, he is the President of the United States. It makes no practical sense to actively work toward the failure of the sitting president. Isn't that the same objective as our enemies abroad, the militants and the anarchists? Of course, if the Republicans and Democrats were to contribute to actual progress through bi-partisan collaboration, there would be less of an ability to demonize each other and avoid the hard work of governing.
Benefiting from discontent is not new. In fact, Henry Ford talked about this issue in his autobiography, "My Life and Work," writing, "The exploitation of dissatisfaction is an established business today. Its object is not to settle anything, nor to get anything done, but to keep dissatisfaction in existence." Exploiting dissatisfaction does not replace the status quo with something better; it just creates feelings of unrest and unhappiness.
The Republican Party has the ability to be a party of ideas and action. Nobody said capitalism was without its flaws, and we should go about the business of making things right and getting the economy back on track through free enterprise and the principles that we stand for. The challenge for the Republicans is to work with their colleagues to create lasting change rather than do everything possible to bring about failure.
For all of the talk about President Obama being a one-term president and the necessity to take action to ensure that he fails, there is a troublesome lack of concreteness in terms of what would be done instead. For example, as the Tea Partiers and the Republicans gather together to chant "Repeal and Replace," few could actually tell you with what they would actually replace anything. That's not a platform, that's whining.
A recent poll by the Washington Post and ABC found that Republicans are gaining approval points while Democrats are losing them on a number of key issues including trust in the handling of the economy. This should present an opportunity for the Republican Party to establish that they are the party that represents the best interests of the voter. This is different than screaming to anybody who will listen that the Democrats are wrong. Although 57% of those responding to the survey said they were happy the Republicans had broken the Democrat super-majority, that doesn't mean they support the Republican Party. It may only mean they want checks and balances in the system.
Henry Ford had a perspective on accountability that would have made him a great Republican Party Chair, were he alive today. He would have been a great replacement for Michael Steele and would have had the courage to take concrete action on his convictions and would not have tolerated a "wait it out" mentality.
It is important for the Republicans now to remember that their purpose is not "business," their purpose is representing and serving the people of the United States. As Ford said "Business and government are necessary as servants, like water and grain; as masters they overturn the natural order."
A free-market is about providing a life for the people that is commensurate with the effort and work they invest. It is not perfect, but it is better and provides greater opportunity than living a life dictated by the whims of government. Rather than basing our existence on what we do not believe in, we should be using this time as the minority to establish what it is that we do.
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