Right after George H.W. Bush lost to Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonCourt questions greens’ challenge to EPA chemical rule delay The only way out of this mess Federal court tosses out Obama-era rule requiring financial advisers to act in customers' best interests MORE, and things looked bleak for congressional Republicans, Haley Barbour, then the new Republican National Committee chairman, put together a strategy to basically re-brand the party. He founded the National Policy Forum, which held town hall-style conversations around the country to find out what the American people wanted from their government.

The National Policy Forum was not without controversy. The Democrats sensed how this exercise would threaten their majorities and their death grip on power, and they attacked its creation with lawsuits, investigations and innuendo.

This weekend, House Minority Whip Eric CantorEric Ivan CantorGOP sees McCarthy moving up — if GOP loses the House Feehery: The governing party 'Release the memo' — let's stop pretending that Democrats are the defenders of the FBI MORE (R-Va.) will unveil the National Council for a New America, along with such GOP luminaries as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, John McCainJohn Sidney McCainTrump informally offered Cohn CIA job before changing his mind: report Schiff: I thought more Republicans would speak out against Trump Trump presses GOP to change Senate rules MORE, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and, of course, Haley Barbour.

According to the talking points about the group, “The National Council for a New America (NCNA) brings together Congressional leaders and a National Panel of Experts to begin a conversation with the American people. We hope that it will form the foundation of a concerted, policy-based forum to listen to, partner with, and empower the American people with ideas and solutions that speak directly to the needs of our great nation.”

I guarantee that the Democrats will do everything they can to attack this effort. But I also know that Cantor and his team will be ready for the attacks, because they have done their homework.

I have long said that the Republicans need to freshen up their ideas and their vision. They have now been trounced in back-to-back elections. Fewer and fewer Americans are calling themselves Republicans. And they are going to have an internal bloodbath, as conservatives seem to want to purify the party of all moderates, and moderates seem to be content to either switch parties or become independent.

This national conversation comes at a critical time in the history of the republic and in the history of the Republican Party. More and more Americans feel that politicians of all stripes do not represent their interests. Frustration has boiled over when it comes to bailouts and spending. And there is widespread anger at the state of the economy.

Channeling this nascent populist revolt represents both a challenge and an opportunity for the Republican Party. If they listen carefully to what the people need from their government and come up with the right plan to achieve those goals, they can get their mojo back. This national conversation is a good first step in getting back near majority status in the next election.

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