Sometime around the time Barack Obama won the White House, I started wondering who would inherit the Republican Party. I have to admit I felt a little schadenfreude when George and Dick drove the GOP off a cliff, but I also named this space “Common Ground” for a reason. We need to focus on what unites us more than the things that divide us.
Here’s some common ground: We need two functioning political parties to continue to meet the challenges of our times. Unlike Karl Rove, I don’t want one party to run the country. Hammering out public policy through competing visions for the future has always been America’s strength. But today the GOP is not functioning; it’s a rudderless bunch who just say “no” to everything, while faux-populists stoke the fires of discontent while cashing in on the emotions they manipulate. It’s not pretty.
Today’s new candidates must rise above the mess; they will set the tone for the next generation of the GOP. To judge whether they might be part of the solution for the Party, I apply what I like to call the 3-S Test to new candidates — the Safe, Sane and Selfless Test. I’ll break it down: Are they safe? Would they support starting two wars with no plan for winning or paying for them? Would they leave Wall Street and oil companies alone to pursue their profiteering? (As they instruct new doctors: First, do no harm.)
Are they sane? Will they use their office to pry into the sex lives of citizens? Will they insist that God planted dinosaur bones 5,000 years ago just for fun?
Are they selfless? Politics has become a highly lucrative career, with elected office a springboard to higher paid jobs in lobbying or speechifying. This is why I ind myself trusting a guy like Michael Bloomberg — he’s already rich, so he’s obviously doing it for ego (which I can live with) and the good of the people. Normal people can be selfless, too, but you’ve got to gauge their potential greed factor.
You can apply my test to any candidate from any party, but to illustrate, let’s apply it to the GOP contenders for president. Mitt Romney passes on all three counts. Sarah Palin, meanwhile, fails across the board. So for me, to return the GOP to its Reagan-esque roots, Romney would be the wise choice. And crazy as it is to hear myself say it, America needs the GOP to make a comeback — a safe, sane and selfless one, that is.
Ted S. McGregor Jr. is the Editor and Publisher of The Inlander.