There’s a wonderful line in Bruce Springsteen’s “Thunder Road” that seems relevant amid the speculation of who is readying to take the reins of the Republican Party. Springsteen sings, “You can …waste your summer praying in vain for a savior to rise from these streets.”
It seems ever since 11:00 p.m. Nov. 4, 2008, the party has been looking for its next standard bearer. First it was Sarah Palin. Then it was Bobby Jindal. After that it was Scott Brown.
Mitt Romney, Mike Pence, Newt Gingrich, Jim DeMint, Tim Pawlenty and a host of others have also tried to position themselves to stand against President Obama in 2012. Everyone seems to have an opinion of who leads the party and who ought to; including Chris Matthews, who still seems to think the answer is Rush Limbaugh.
Tea Party members have gotten excited about a lot of potential candidates already. Some have flamed out early and some have made moves to stay the course. The more moderate conservative wing also has its favorites as well.
But let’s revisit some recent history. In 2006, the GOP was getting excited about then-Senators Bill Frist and George Allen. Long story short, a lot can happen in two-plus years. Let’s not waste our time.
While this kind of speculation and “bandwagoning” can no doubt be entertaining, it isn’t very productive. It’s distracting actually. Looking forward is preventing us from moving forward.
We’re so concerned about how each individual candidate looks to the home crowd that if they do anything that smells of compromise or working with the current administration, they are shunned. Case in point: Charlie Crist. This isn’t to say Crist wasn’t wrong, but it demonstrates this attention furthers partisan divides, and partisan divides slow the governing process.
Everyone is in campaign mode long before the campaign. That isn’t a good formula for successful governing. The GOP rock stars should be working long hours to articulate the Republican alternatives to the administration’s policies and not building their rhetorical library.
We as voters can also send another message. To those who spend more time in front of TV cameras than actually doing the people’s business, we ought to say stop. We ought to say get back to us in a year.
We’re looking for leaders with a record of ideas, not record of being against the wrong ideas before everyone else. We can all agree to disagree with the Democrats, but that doesn’t mean we should give up until the next election.
The real leaders are the ones fighting the good fight while some select others are putting their potential candidacies first. Every four years we have a presidential election, but in between we should spend a little time making laws.
So for those of you wasting your summers in vain praying for a savior to rise from these streets, consider digging in because you’re going to be at it awhile. The savior you’re looking for and the savior we need hasn’t entered the fray just yet.