What’s politically possible won’t change as long as Republican politicians ‘don’t like to think’

If our national political discussion is going to be about “hope,” skin color and gender, instead of about economic and foreign policy realities, then the Democrats will win.

If Republicans aren’t going to learn how to properly discuss the issues, aggressively drive an agenda, or build a real ideas-based political party, then even Democrats like Barack Obama can win the White House.

The fact that Obama has never accomplished anything in private or public life is not a disqualification for him attaining the presidency as long as elected Republicans fail to articulate a coherent message and set a performance standard.

When a party holds power like the Republicans did during the six years between 2001 and 2006, it won’t hold onto that power unless it can run on a record of accomplishments. That should be obvious but unfortunately it isn’t to too many of our leaders.

When Republicans like former Congressman Dennis Hastert had the opportunity to work on building public support for real domestic policy reforms while he held the Speakership for the equivalent of two presidential terms, he failed miserably.

Republicans being out of power changes nothing. Now more than ever they need to be engaged in the battle to win public opinion. I’ve said it before — too many politicians think public opinion is like the weather, and we all know there’s nothing you can do about the weather. Politicians who believe that should go back to private life.

When Congressional Republicans had the attention of Americans following 9-11-01 and after the U.S. invaded Iraq, they failed to capitalize on the opportunity to open up new and improved lines of communication with the voting public.

Those lines could’ve been used to advance all kinds of policy reforms. But they also could’ve been used in case the going got rough in Iraq and Afghanistan.

History tells us that wars usually aren’t easy. Public sentiment regarding World War II was even waning in 1945. Smart political leaders would’ve realized that this new war we fight against radical Islam would be much more difficult than the relatively easy Desert Storm of 1991.

When the small footprint strategy in Iraq failed, the expected happened. Instead of being able to keep enough Americans on the side of winning the war despite difficulty, most Republican elected officials hid in the tall grass. Most of them are still there waiting for the poll results to change.

Republican politicians clearly don’t understand their role in forming those poll results. They don’t understand because they don’t like to think.

Those aren’t my words — “Republican politicians don’t like to think.” Former Speaker Newt Gingrich said that last month. While he was being interviewed, the issue was raised about the fact that both political parties are failing the country, and that neither has demonstrated the ability to govern successfully.

Newt’s response:

GINGRICH: Well, the way I describe it is Democrats can’t and for some bizarre reason Republicans won’t. The Democrats have a very hard time reforming these great bureaucracies because it’s their public employees. It’s their left-wing tenured faculty member. It’s their left wing judge. It’s their left-wing trial lawyer. It’s their left wing Hollywood…

The Republicans have a different problem. Well, I hate to say it this way, but Republican politicians don’t like to think. I think as a group, they get together and chant slogans. And they find it very hard to pay attention to the serious fundamental lessons that are necessary.

INTERVIEWER: Republican candidates…want to win the war in Iraq, stay on offense on the war on terror. Every one of them is talking about securing our borders. They all want to lower taxes. They don’t want to nationalize healthcare. They want free market solutions. Is that thinking enough or not enough?

GINGRICH: Well, let me give you an example. We just had the Michigan primary. Here was an opportunity to go into a state which has had an artificial recession. Other than states hit by Katrina, no state in America has had as much job loss as Michigan. All of it artificial, caused by terrible government in Detroit and terrible government in Lansing.

And by the way, the reaction of the liberal Democrats to Michigan collapsing was, “Let’s raise taxes. Now here’s how bad it is. Forty percent of the students at Michigan State and the University of Michigan plan to leave the state as soon as they graduate. Yet no Republican went in and said, “Here is a fundamental critique of what we need to do for Michigan to be healthy.”

In 1950, Detroit had a 1,800,000 people and had the highest per capita income in America. Today, after a half century of terrible government, Detroit has shrunk to 950,000 people and is number 62 in per capita income. Now, this is a tragedy worth studying because it is vivid proof that the big bureaucracy, big regulation, big litigation, high tax model of the left kills jobs, kills hope and cripples the future…

If somebody would go out to the American people, lay it on the line, accept the ridicule of the “New York Times,” accept the ridicule of the elite media, accept the assault of the public employee unions and talk about the scale of change we really need, I think they’d win a stunning upset.”

Because of the failure of our Republican leaders, not enough people realize that Barack Obama’s and Hillary Clinton’s “solutions” represent every wrong policy choice possible.

If this country would’ve been experiencing real political leadership for the past number of years, we’d be well on the way to electing sufficient majorities that would institute the kind of change that works.

The Republican platform principles outline exactly what needs to be done when it comes to health care policy, tax simplification, and Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid reforms. Yet the nationwide discussion of those solutions has yet to take place at the level it must. For that to happen, Republican candidates and office holders have to get over their aversion to using that gray matter between their ears.

I keep thinking I’m hearing comic Eddie Murphy doing his Martin Luther King Jr. imitation when I hear Barack Obama stringing together wondrous platitudes. I want to laugh — but in light of Republican failures — it’s not a laughing matter.

Electing someone of mixed race or a woman isn’t going to usher in a new reality. As it has been said, the history of the world is that capitalism has succeeded everywhere it has been tried, socialism has failed everywhere it has been tried, and yet politicians are continually saying, “Hey, let us try socialism!”

Unless Republicans get their act together and inject some substance into this election campaign, the American public will drop the incremental approach and go all the way in the wrong policy direction.