I had intended to continue today my discussion of the redistricting process that will affect how we vote when the new census figures arrive in 2011. However, alarm bells went off for me when I read the October 5, 2009, article in the POLITICO by Manu Raju and Jonathan Martin, which is entitled “ GOP LEADERS TO MICHAEL STEELE: BACK OFF”. “According to multiple people familiar with the meeting”, several Republican leaders in Congress, including House Minority Leader John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, delivered a “blunt message” to Michael Steele, recently elected Chairman of the Republican National Committee, to quit meddling in policy issues such as health care, and focus on fundraising, the upcoming governors’ races in New Jersey and Virginia, and other political matters.
According to “unnamed sources”, Steele was “taken aback” by the criticism of his actions and grew defensive in a “heated discussion”. He said that he was getting asked where the GOP stood on a range of issues and “wanted to respond to those questions.” Later, Republican Senators downplayed the differences of the participants in the meeting, but Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee stated that the “point” of the discussion was that elected Congressional Republicans should set policy, while the RNC’s role was to “create an environment in which Republicans can be elected to set policy.” He expressed confidence that Chairman Steele understood the proper role of the RNC and that…“ I think we see eye to eye on it.”
In a follow-up article in the POLITICO on October 6, 2009, Chairman Steele said that “the continuing unease over his leadership owed to some [Capital} Hill aides ‘who clearly had a bug up their you know what.”
Only those present know precisely what was said at that “private” session of our Republican leaders, which was apparently leaked to the press to further someone’s private agenda. However, one thing is crystal clear: if Republicans want to make large gains in the congressional elections in 2010, Congressional Republicans and the Chairman of the RNC (and their aides) must find a way to effectively work together to achieve that goal.
It is true that vast numbers of Americans are extremely upset and frustrated with the direction our country is taking under the leadership of the Obama Administration, both on the domestic front as well as in the foreign policy arena. Enthusiasm is building toward a consensus that we made a terrible mistake in the last election by placing our trust in leaders that wish to replace the principles upon which the nation was built with a socialistic form of government. Still, the people will not fully place their trust in 2010 in a political party where its leaders are not fully united and seem to be more intent on bickering among themselves, rather than on responding to the pleas of those attending the tea parties.
In the period leading up to the midterm congressional elections during the first term of the Clinton Administration, Congressional Republicans, led by Newt Gingrich, sounded the alarm and trumpeted their “contract for America” – a clear manifesto of what they were for and what they were against. They were aided in this effort by Haley Barbour, who was serving at the time as Chairman of the Republican National Committee. There was no highly publicized internal bickering because they were united in an urgent effort to re-establish Republican principles and defeat the Democrats. The Congressional Republicans and the RNC Chairman embraced each other and praised each other. They were united.
The leadership and unity displayed by the Congressional Republicans and Haley Barbour during the Clinton Administration is the type of leadership we need today in Washington. Without it, the Republican Party – and the nation – will continue to suffer.
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