Which Republican Can Challenge President Obama in 2012?
He Said Yes We Can: And People Believed Him.
A little over five years ago, very few people in American knew who Barack Obama was. It wasn't until the Democratic convention that nominated John Kerry as President that Obama was introduced to America. At that convention, Obama burst onto the political scene as a new leader of the Democratic Party. Still, nobody considered him to really be a challenger for the Presidency in four years.
After George Bush won re-election, everyone believed Hillary Clinton was going to be the next Democratic nominee. The democrats were going back to what had worked a decade before and stay the course. Little noticed when Barack Obama declared that he too was running for President. Then Iowa happened. And before anyone had time to breath, Barack Obama, this man with a funny name and big ears, was inspiring a nation. Thousands stood in the cold to hear him preach about hope and opportunity in places like Iowa and New Hampshire. Young people devoted their time to see that their candidate won. Minorities across all racial divides participated in politics like never before. Americans across the country who never cared before got involved, donated money, time and energy. And he won. In less than five years, Barack Obama inspired a nation and made history.
So my question, who in the Republican Party can inspire their own party and the Country the way Barak Obama did?
The Republicans Have Done It Before
Most democrats will claim that the Republicans do not have anyone like Obama and never will. This is simply not the case. Republicans have inspired a nation before. It wasn't all that long ago when Ronald Reagan soundly defeated Jimmy Carter and then won 49 states to secure re-election. Reagan won despite his party being disgraced by Richard Nixon only six years before. While Reagan may have been older and conservative, he inspired many young people to take a part in government. Many of those young people became the leaders of the Republican Party in the 1990s through today. John McCain and Newt Gingrich are unapologetic Reaganites.
Reagan also brought democrats to the Republican Party. Today, a whole section of the democratic party is termed "Reagan Democrats." And remember, Reagan won California both times.
Can the Republicans do it again?
The Governor of Louisiana's name has been thrown around as the potential nominee for the Republican Party in 2012. But after his performance rebutting President Obama's address to Congress, it does not appear that he has what it takes to inspire a nation. Even Republicans have blasted Jindal's performance. David Brooks, a conservative New York Times columnist, who has criticized aspects of the stimulus plan, called Jindal's arguments "insane" and tone-deaf given economic challenges the country faces.
And can anyone really argue that watching Jindal speak inspired confidence and moved them to action? I am sure he is a decent and smart man, but he is not a tranforming figure.
The Governor of Alaska burst onto the scene and for a moment brought hope and inspiration to the base of the Republican Party. The Country even had a love affair with her for a moment. But then as quickly as she came onto the scene, she fizzled. Everyone began questioning whether she had what it took to lead a Country.
And, can anyone really say that when Governor Palin spoke she inspired confidence? She appears to be a more divisive figure than one that can bring people together. In many ways, she is much like Secretary Clinton. She is capable and there are those who love her, but just as many that hate her. There is not a whole lot of middle ground. She does not appear to be galvanizing force that inspires a people to greatness.
The former Governor of Massachusetts ran for President in 2008. A former businessman, Romney's focus was on building economic strength under conservative values. Romney won the Michigan primary and faired well in Iowa and New Hampshire, but his campaign fizzled after John McCain won New Hampshire and South Carolina. Romney was on the short list to be McCain's running mate but was passed over.
Romney is building an organization to run for President again in 2012. He has strong business and organizational credentials. But is he a leader that can inspire a nation? There are those that question his religion (which is not right) and others that question his toughness (fair). It appears he may be a better Department Head than President but only time will tell.
Find Out For Yourself
Mike Huckabee, the former Governor of Arkansas, ran a strong Presidential campaign in 2008. Huckabee won many primaries, including the Iowa Caucuses, Alabama and Arkansas. Huckabee stayed in the race until March when he gracefully withdrew his name from nomination. Huckabee then worked hard in support of John McCain.
Since the Presidential run, Huckabee has done much to stay in the public light. He hosts a highly rated show on Fox named "Huckabee." There, Huckabee discusses national issues, interviews politicians and celebrities and even plays in a "rock band" made up of people who work on the show. Huckabee has also authoried a new book "Do The Right Thing."
While Huckabee is likeable he may not be the right fit for the Republicans in 2012. He is an ardent and unapologetic right wing politician. While his beliefs appear sincere, his beliefs alienate the moderates in the Republican Party. But, if the Republican Party decides to embrace the evangelicals and the "Christian Right," Huckabee very well could be their man.
What Are The Republicans Left With ?
Many names are being thrown around about who will face Barack Obama in 2012. Jindall, Palin, Romney and many others. But where is the unlikely candidate that builds a grass roots organization and inspires people to devote their time and energy to put a good man in office? I don't see him or her yet. Even though I am a liberal who believes Obama can do a great many things to improve the Country, I would like to see a sincere conservative who inspires the same amount of passion run against him in 2012. It would great to watch a sincere debate between two candidates who inspire each side. I think it would be good for the Country to have both sides articulated in a respectul manner but with passion and purpose. I hope the Republicans find that person. If they don't, the Republicans may learn what a 49 state sweep feels like from the other side.