If this were a group award, the GOP House leadership would get it for finally figuring out a debt ceiling strategy that was smart, effective and popular. As for individuals, Sens. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) get credit for exposing how deeply incompetent our current secretary of state and indeed our entire national security operation has been.
But this week Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus gets the nod. At the RNC winter meeting he gave a speech that is a solid guide and some tough love for Republicans. He cast the Democrats as guardians of the sclerotic status quo and the GOP as “the party that offers something new. We’re the party of innovation . . . . We want students and parents empowered by equal opportunity in education, not restricted by unions. We want an open energy economy that harnesses all sources of power, not those selected by an activist Energy Department. We want a health-care system that respects doctor-patient decisions — not government dictates.”
With due respect to Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, it really does matter how big government is (in part because we face a financial crisis and in part because a big government and big debt squash growth). Priebus made the smart connection here: Limiting government is a means to an end — liberty, prosperity, self-direction.
He made a pitch for not conceding states (“When candidates like Scott Walker, Susana Martinez and Chris Christie win statewide, they prove that no blue state is that reliably blue”) and for using all the technology and techniques available to grow the party. But this was the nugget at the heart of the speech: “In the next election, I don’t know who people will vote for. I don’t even know who will run. But I know this: We will be a Republican Party that people will want to join. A party that inspires again. Not a party that just says ‘no’ …but a party that says ‘follow us to a brighter future.’ A party of prosperity, success, and freedom. It doesn’t matter where you live, who you are, what you look like or what your last name is. Because we will be a party for everyone, everywhere.” No 47-percenter is he.
His ability to put this into practice is largely dependent on elected officials, activists, voters and candidates. But he is doing what he should be — revitalizing the apparatus of the party and sounding a clear, positive and inclusive message.
Well done, Mr. Chairman.