Two Republicans have stood out in my mind as people who represent more than what the Grand Old Party has become – Senator Susan Collins of Maine and Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey. They stand out as they both have reputations of being bipartisan in their thoughts and deeds and for recognizing one overarching truth – they represent all of their constituents. Of course, they have a more conservative bent, but being a Republican should not overshadow that they represent folks from Maine and New Jersey. Yet, while they would both be great Presidential/ Vice Presidential candidates, the sad truth is they get demonized in their own party for their actions, beliefs and behaviors.
Why is this so? Quite simply, they are not strident enough in their conservative beliefs. Those who are on the extreme side of their party do not recognize Collins and Christie’s mainstream virtues for what they are. The extreme side views them as weak and giving in. In a nutshell, that is what is wrong with the GOP as people who would govern with a conscious and work collaboratively with others are demonized. Christie continues to be vilified for not only working with the President, but thanking him for his help for New Jersey citizens after Hurricane Sandy. He was also viewed poorly for telling Mitt Romney he did not have time for a photo shoot as he was working to help people who lost everything. His vintage Christie comment was, unless the candidate is going to help me help these people, tell Romney not to waste my time.
Collins was the leader behind the women senators who helped make the debt ceiling/ government shutdown deal to reopen the government and let America pay its bills. They worked with a bipartisan group of senators to make it happen. Attached is a link to a post I wrote a few weeks ago.
She also will be submitting a bill in the Senate which will received bipartisan support to help end discrimination toward gays in the workplace. It should have over 60 senators vote in its favor, over the objections of the Heritage Foundation’s political activist arm. When you read her bio on her website, she uses the word bipartisan often. What I also like about her is she shows up and goes to work. In July of last year, she registered her 5,000th straight roll call vote, never having missed one while in the Senate.
Let me state a few obvious things from this Independent, former Republican’s view. Note, I am former Democrat, as well, describing myself as fiscally conservative and socially progressive. The GOP will not climb out of its abyss “tripling down” on extreme conservatism. The party double downed after last year’s election, which was a huge mistake. By limiting their sources of information and data to those who are telling them what they want to hear, the party is not understanding the problems, addressing the demographic changes or listening to what mainstream America is saying. For example, there was genuine surprise by conservative news sources that Romney lost, even though the survey data said he would.
I have written before how the last slate of GOP Presidential candidates was very weak. If the party puts up any of the following candidates – Senator Ted Cruz, Senator Rand Paul, former Governor Sarah Palin, Senator Marco Rubio, Congressman Paul Ryan in 2016 – they will likely get trounced in the general election. Rubio showed some hopeful signs when he was on the bipartisan immigration group of senators, but now he has kowtowed to the strident view in his own party and is against the Senate plan he helped pass. There are some flip-flops that are more noteworthy than others and being against something you helped pass is akin to Romney being against his previous version of Obamacare that is working well in Massachusetts.
The better GOP candidates would be Christie or Collins, or if the GOP leadership could woo former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels away from Purdue University, he would also be an excellent choice. Daniels chose not to run in 2012, my guess is he knew Obama would win. The key to all of them is they are fiscal conservatives, yet they also represent all constituents. The GOP needs to move back toward the center. The business community and funders are giving the party strong signals to get more collaborative and govern. The funders want a ROI on their investment. That is the key reason the Koch Brothers fund the Tea Party around the country. Yet, if that party cannot deliver an ROI to the Koch’s, they will stop funding it and move to another set of representation who can. They have already distanced themselves some, when the defunding Obamacare strategy was not working.
So, GOP please do not triple down on extreme conservatism. Bring the party back to being a reasonable voice at the table. America needs reasonable voices from both sides. Stop standing against everything and stand for something. Starting with Collins and Christie would be a very good move.