by David T. Bruce
The collective consciousness that is the Republican Party is scrambling to select a viable candidate to run against President Obama in the 2012 elections. With the relentless in-fighting that has laid bare the faults, idiosyncrasies, and past transgressions of each of the Republican presidential candidates, the new frontrunner for the GOP is former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich.
Mr. Gingrich’s political resume has already been scrutinized by the general public, the Republican Party, and the global media. Americans will be regularly reminded of his successes and his failures, as we are asked to recall how he demonstrated bipartisanship when balancing the nation’s budget and how he was ultimately compelled to resign for overt belligerence and infantile behavior. Mr. Gingrich was fined for unethical behavior, a first for any Speaker of the House. With the facts known, polls indicate that Mr. Gingrich is still potentially considered as the best choice for our new president.
At least some Republican leaders seem to remember why Mr. Gingrich was obliged to resign, and given the typical longevity of our elected officials, I suspect that many remember. As voters, we tend to be fickle and forgetful (you can bet that Gingrich is counting on this). Our representatives tend to be self-interested. All of these qualities are human traits and are sometimes forgivable. Such a combination, however, during an election year in which Party platforms promote cutting taxes for the wealthiest Americans (as if they did not enjoy enough tax loopholes already) and cutting health care benefits for the poorest Americans, places our nation at rick of further stagnation on economic, academic, and environmental levels.
We talk of change, but all we see is regression. When the Republican National Committee considers reclaiming a member of their party once shunned, we must question their motivation, if not their sanity. If we are hoping to look forward as a nation, why are we looking backward? Are there no fresh candidates that can speak their minds and not the stale rhetoric of the past few decades? Are there no fresh ideas that offer some suggestion that we live in the 21st century and not the 19th century? Is the 2012 Republican campaign about beating Obama or the Democratic Party in general, or is it about selecting a candidate that will unite and lead Americans?
Given President Obama’s lack of success in uniting both parties, and given his failure to employ a firmer hand when dealing with Congress, the desire to find new leadership is understandable. The Democrats could indeed find another candidate, but they want to save face, thus becoming part of the problem as well. Congress is part of the problem, and Newt Gingrich is representative of why Congress is part of the problem. He has proven that much.
American voters must give up the mentality that we have to look to the past for answers. We must give up the notion that our elected officials deserve to be reelected, including the President. If these men and women are not doing their jobs effectively, we have the right to ask them to step down. We have the right to elect new leaders. The challenge for our elected officials is how to keep their jobs. Our challenge as American voters is to unite ourselves in the endeavor to mold this country into what we want, not what career politicians want.
Recycling is great but the last thing we need to do is recycle old politicians. As a group, we need to get off our asses, educate ourselves, and begin recruiting people to hold office who are capable of putting the country ahead of their own personal agendas.