Leadership deficit dragging down GOP

By Brian Ochsner baochsner@aol.com The biggest deficit that our state and country face today isn’t the financial variety. Our federal budget and foreign trade deficits are only symptoms of the cause. A verse in Proverbs sums it up best: “Without vision, the people will perish.”

Without strong, wise, decisive leadership, our country will struggle longer and harder to overcome these challenges. Here's my take on why Bush’s poll numbers have dropped like a rock, and why Republicans need to lead if they want to maintain their majority in 2007 and beyond:

Bush the Younger isn’t much better than Bush the Elder on that ‘vision thing.’ It’s a fuzzy, inconsistent vision the President tries to communicate in fits and starts. I’ll give him credit – recently he has partially stayed ‘on message.’ The two most common phrases the President has uttered in recent weeks are: “America’s addiction to oil,” and that illegal immigrants from Mexico “do jobs that Americans don’t want to do.”

I’ll agree that Americans are Black Gold junkies, and I partially agree that illegal aliens do jobs that Americans don’t want to do, but with a qualifier – I’ll explain in a little bit. Hearing these phrases is like a visit to the doctor, where he looks in your ears, down your throat, takes your temperature and blood pressure, and says: “Yep, you’ve definitely got strep throat.” And that’s all.

What you want to say is, “Well doc, what do you prescribe for it?” That’s where Americans are today, and probably the biggest reason for the President’s rock-bottom poll ratings. He’s diagnosed the problems, and recently provided a four-point stopgap measure to combat higher gas prices, but hasn’t spelled out a long-term solution to these problems.

It seems like very few elected officials are willing to take firm stands on many – if any – issues. Folks like Tom Tancredo are demonized for having the chutzpah to say what tens of millions of Americans are thinking about the swarm of illegal immigrants coming into our country.

Republicans today are like a football team playing the ‘prevent defense’ in the last two minutes of a football game. For you non-sports fans, the mindset behind this is a team who’s trying not to lose the game, instead of playing to win. More often than not, all the prevent defense does is prevent a team from winning. Republican leaders are generally trying not to offend anyone, and just going along to get along.

Tact and compromise are necessary to succeed in politics. However, you also need to know where your ideological boundaries are. Sadly, a lot of Republicans have forgotten that the GOP is the party of lower taxes and spending, smaller government, and personal responsibility. History shows that when you have a clear vision of what you want to accomplish, and the boldness to stand behind it, good things will happen.

In 1980, Beltway insiders said that Ronald Reagan was “too extreme” and “just an actor” who couldn’t be a serious contender for President. He was more than a good contender; he was one of our country’s greatest Presidential leaders. Reagan won both elections in landslides because he had a positive, conservative vision for America, and communicated that vision with clarity, charisma and good humor.

Remember in 1994 when the Republicans, led by Newt Gingrich, came up with the Contract With America? This adherence to principle combined with a clear plan helped them regain the majority in the US House and Senate. Contrast this with 2006, where Republicans seem to have lost their way and are in danger of losing that majority.

Conservatives aren’t happy with the President and Congress because they haven’t stayed true to conservative principles. And – they don’t seem to have a plan or vision to solve the problems that our country will face now and in the future. Some in Congress have demagogued and demonized Big Oil; some have proposed Band-Aid measures such as the $100 gas tax rebate (which is going over like a lead balloon), instead of formulating a constructive, realistic energy policy for America.

Back to the President’s statements on oil and illegals. Yes, our economy is heavily reliant on the free flow of affordable Black Gold. And yes, Illegal immigrants will do work that Americans won’t do. Not because of the work itself, but because of the lower wages they’re paid. However, this doesn’t justify the invasion of illegal aliens who don’t want to speak English or assimilate into our American culture. We must secure the southern border with Mexico and make sure Mexicans regain respect for our laws, culture and country.

Here’s my message to GOP candidates in Colorado and around the country: Forget trying to please everybody, ‘building consensus,’ and trying not to step on any toes. Stick to conservative principles, lead with the best interests of the voters in mind, and the people will follow. The choice is yours.