National Party News

National Party News

Al From and the Founding of Today’s Majority Democratic Party

This column appears originally in The Washington Times of Monday, June 29.

Sometimes a private citizen — someone who has never run for office but has a vision and a political idea, someone who is both stubborn and insightful — can change the course of political history.

Thomas Paine is an example of one such person. His words and ideas literally helped change the course of U.S. history. In 1776, his first two of four pamphlets, "Common Sense" and "The Crisis" — the latter beginning with the famous opening line, "These are the times that try men's souls" — have been credited with mobilizing public opinion to help motivate American colonists to fight the British in what was deemed to be an unwinnable war. They reportedly were read by a greater percentage of the population of the American colonies than the percentage that watches the Super Bowl today.

Sarah Palin at the June 8 Republican Dinner

Last year when Neil Young was promoting some new material, people kept asking him to play the old songs. He told a reporter that he preferred doing the new material because he was a different person back then — Young headlined at Woodstock and was a leading voice into the next decade — and he can’t even remember who that person was.

That is a comment on the artist’s life well-lived, taking it as it comes and always peering ahead on the smoky river, never looking back. But it creates issues for the firm. The corporation hates change. It wants to sell the old songs in the back catalog. That is the problem the Republicans had with Sarah Palin at the Republican dinner. As said here months back, if Gov. Palin is to come forth, she will come forth at the June 8 dinner. And she did.

The RNC Pelosi Ad

Gee, guys — thanks a lot.

The Republican National Committee (RNC) ad depicting Nancy Pelosi as Bond girl "Pussy Galore" set party efforts back a few years. Such silliness about such a serious matter on the part of a few of the boys over at the RNC casts a pall over all of us. The actions of a few are now considered to represent the entire party.

Steele’s Resolve

It’s no secret I’ve been critical of the job Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Michael Steele has done in recent months, beginning with his hip-hop flop, and continuing on with other PR snafus.

The front page of The Washington Times today would lead you to believe that he has yet to turn a corner in his chairmanship. But let’s give some credit to the man for his recent leadership on this totally nonsensical notion that some in the party want to pursue in formally referring to the national Democratic Party as the “Socialist Democratic Party.”

Name-Changing Resolutions Won't Change the Game for the GOP

Political eyes will be on the National Harbor in Prince George's County, Md., as the Republican National Committee meets to consider what we're going to call Democrats.

With the GOP on the receiving end of back-to-back electoral smackdowns in 2006 and 2008 and the party's polls numbers still hovering somewhere below those of trial lawyers (though above John Edwards's numbers!), spending time and money on what is essentially a name-calling resolution — to rename the Democratic Party the "Democrat-Socialist Party" — is at best a waste of time.

Thin Ice

In baseball, when a team loses 10 games in a row, the owner starts thinking about firing the manager.

Whoever owns the Republican Party should start thinking about firing Michael Steele.

Steele’s run at the Republican National Committee (RNC) has been inauspicious at best, a complete disaster at worst.

The Misguided Colin Powell

Former Secretary of State Gen. Colin Powell has lost his bearings on what it means to be a Republican.

He certainly can be forgiven for supporting Obama over McCain. He can be forgiven for criticizing Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin. He can be forgiven for criticizing the direction of the Republican Party.

However, he cannot be forgiven for disparaging the core of the philosophy of the Republican Party. At a recent conference, Powell stated, “Americans do want to pay taxes for services." He also continued that "Americans are looking for more government in their life, not less."

The Prophet of Positivism

Jack Kemp wasn’t a particularly good vice presidential candidate. He was a happy warrior, which made Bob Dole’s sourpuss more pronounced during his losing effort to gain the White House.

But Kemp was a prophetic leader of the Republican Party, whose efforts to expand the party base are all the more significant today.

Yes, Kemp pushed for tax cuts, and his supply-side philosophy would later become criticized as “trickle-down” economics. But Kemp never pushed to cut taxes because he wanted to help the rich. He pushed for tax cuts to help the economy grow, which in turn would help the poor.

National Council for a New America

Right after George H.W. Bush lost to Bill Clinton, 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.

Building Ideas to Move America Forward

You hear it every day — the GOP is either dying or dead.

These are not good days for the GOP. No one with a straight face can argue the point. This means Republicans throughout the country — the entire country — need to do some soul-searching and figure out what the party is and how it comes back.

It's not enough to be against President Obama — and, frankly, if that's all the GOP has to offer, the party might as well pack up and go back to its shrinking home.