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Henry Ford for GOP chairman

Dr. L. Todd Thomas
Dr. L. Todd Thomas is a speaker, author, trainer, coach, and president of IMPACT Consulting and Development. Previously he served for nearly 10 years with Daimler Chrysler in Detroit, overseeing the company's organizational and executive development programs.

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.

By Todd Thomas

 |  April 16, 2010; 11:43 AM ET |  Category:  Bad leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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This piece is excellent. There are lots of voters who lean Republican (whatever that means now) who think exactly the same way.

Posted by: steveboyington | April 24, 2010 7:28 PM

like Henry Ford, Prescott Bush (father of george h.w. bush) also went out of his way to support the nazi regime (Bush's companies assets were seized by the U.S. government in 1942 under the Trading with the Enemy Act). So, yeah, Ford would have fit right in.

their current immediate problem is that coalition between money-nazis (thomas' people) and fundamentalist fanatics is fractured and in search of an enemy to unite them again (communism, terrorism, etc).

and mr. thomas, please, drop the "doctor" - your graduate degree is in "human communication" what a joke.

Posted by: MalcolmYoung | April 24, 2010 11:47 AM

So Dr. Thomas should have used an example other than Henry Ford. Even so, most of his points are valid, but have no fear. The Republicans in their present incarnation will never follow his reasonable advice. This country is in a deep hole dug the past eight years. It would be nice to have some help getting out of the hole from those who put us there.

Posted by: gondola2 | April 24, 2010 10:40 AM

Henry spoke to soon as Ford has recalls now just like Toyota. Now everyone has an answer but notice Ford had problems too. I notice the GOP didn't run to help for but Banks/Corporations are paying well and who knows maybe the GOP will buy Ford cars with their bribe money.

Posted by: qqbDEyZW | April 24, 2010 2:04 AM

Already mentioned here is that Ford was stridently anti-Semitic. Hitler had a photo of him in his office. However, his fellow industrialists had no problem with that fact. They took issue with the fact that Ford doubled the wages of all of his workers. They called him crazy, insane, dangerous, a socialist. There's that word again.

Posted by: chopin224 | April 23, 2010 5:16 PM

Perhaps Mr. Thomas could also remind the GOP that Henry Ford felt about the Irish in his day the way Russell Pearce feels about Latinos today. As he reminds the GOP to take a thoughtful, longer, and more pragmatic look at their long term strategy, he might also help them learn from Mr. Ford's wrong ideas as well as his right ones by including the largest growing voting demographic in the country. Moreso, if the party that once liked to claim itself as the party of moral values and fiscal responsibility actually showed some of both, they might actually do some damage to Democrats. Cheers to Mr. Thomas for making a thoughtful and compelling argument that made this Democrat take pause.

Posted by: guybrarian | April 23, 2010 5:01 PM

Mr. Thomas seems like a reasonable guy and all, and he makes a valid point about the whine and complain nature of today's G.O.P.-Tea Party politics. But Henry Ford??? Talk about your corporatist neo-Fascist moguls. Still, Thomas is correct in saying the GOP (and the Democrats as well) should be representing and serving the people, not trying to manipulate them or frustrate our elected President for political advantage. Unhappily, Thomas also seems to believe that this country is somehow all about the free market, and while markets are a useful tool, they are also souless mechanisms that can inflict as much pain as any government bureaucrat. Putting boundless faith in the free market is just as self-defeating as having boundless faith the govenment.

Posted by: jdnathan | April 23, 2010 4:11 PM

What difference does it make what a DEAD man WOULD do?

Posted by: Evenfoolsarerightsometimes | April 23, 2010 4:09 PM

Talk about moral superiority. The GOP is the poster child of "we are superior". You folks are delusional. In your world it's "all about me", what can I get NOW, the future is not my concern, small minds, want a small world, what to tell everyone else how to live and what to think. You are the Daddy society. I can only shake my head

Posted by: jckdoors | April 23, 2010 2:37 PM

While I don't agree with every point Dr. Thomas makes, I do find it very refreshing indeed to find rational discourse coming from that part of the political spectrum (what a concept! Someone send a memo to Beck, Limbaugh, et al . . .). It is particularly refreshing to hear a Republican call for a positive agenda instead of partisan whining.

If the Repubs want to persuade independently-inclined centrists like myself ever to vote for them, they had better start listening to persons like Dr. Thomas. Are you paying attention, GOP?

Posted by: post_reader_in_wv | April 23, 2010 2:16 PM

If you loved World War 2 then you have to love Henry Ford. He financed Hitler and the Nazi Party in the early 1920's. As a matter of fact the Nazis would not have had the money to continue functioning as a party after the Beer Hall Putsch if it was not for Henry Ford. Ford was Hitlers' favorite American and the most decorated American civilian by Hitler and a traitor to the US as he dragged his feet in gearing up war production for our war effort. Ford probably fits into the mind set of the Modern GOP but that is nothing to be proud of or wished for. You conservatives need to learn some history and also learn from it.

Posted by: bfc1949 | April 23, 2010 2:02 PM

Henry Ford was a realist and we are now paying for our ignoring his prophetic ideas. Trojan Horse took over USA.

Posted by: mascmen7 | April 23, 2010 1:46 PM

The Protocols of Zion book of which I have sold many is a record of proposals adopted at the World Jewish Congress in Basle, Switzerland in 1896. Some items were seize control of press, pharmacies, courts, publishing houses etc. All items have been wildly successful so NY Times denying its reality is insane and a lying assertion.

Posted by: mascmen7 | April 23, 2010 1:43 PM

Ford would make a great Rupublican Party Chair; he mirrors the worst traits seemingly embraced by the party - 1) Openly anti-semitic in his article "The International Jew: The World's Problem." The first paragraph began: "There is a race, a part of humanity which has never yet been received as a welcome part." This people, the article continued, has ever been fouling the earth and plotting to dominate it. In order to eventually rule the Gentiles, the Jews have long been conspiring to form an "international super-capitalist government." 2) Used Union breakers like Henry Bennett to intimidate employees. Bennett employed various intimidation tactics to squash union organizing. The most famous incident was a bloody brawl between company security men and organizers that became known as The Battle of the Overpass. He even threatened to brek up the company instead of offering collective bargaining rights for workers.

Posted by: cadam72 | April 23, 2010 1:35 PM

Henry Ford was a nazi sympathizer.

Posted by: barferio | April 23, 2010 1:32 PM

Henry Ford was an able business-person and a truly evil man. Your average soulless Republican sees no problem with that.

Posted by: bigbrother1 | April 23, 2010 1:29 PM

The Republican nominee for President in 1916 was Charles Evans Hughes NOT Henry Ford, Sr. Jeez, are there any editors or fact checkers left anywhere?

As for Ford's rabid anti-semitism, well, uh, since Michael Steele wants to get away from the southern strategy, I suppose the GOP is looking for a new -ism to embrace.

Posted by: jeffersonian1 | April 23, 2010 1:21 PM

Wow. You want Henry Ford to represent the GOP. Will he be holding in his hand a favorite books of his which he helped publicize in the US, "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion"? Do any of you people in the so called conservative movement do any real research work? Or do you as it appears just wing it on constant basis and hope everyone else is as slovenly in their thinking as you?

Posted by: kchses1 | April 23, 2010 1:04 PM

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