Today I am shedding a little "lyte" on opposition. Our government works on a system of checks and balances. The Constitution assumes that a vigorous oppositional party will be in place to check the party in power. I wish.
It may seem counterintuitive that I would want a strong Republican opposition since I am a lifelong member of the Democratic party, but hear me out on this. Trust me, I think it is wonderful that we have a Democratic president and a majority in both houses of Congress. Often, what comforts me in these dark days is to just consider the alternative if McCain had prevailed in November. Scary? Down right terrifying.
This week the CPAC is meeting in Washington. The big buzz among the conservatives? The next big hope for the Republicans? A thirteen year old kid named Jonathan Krohn. I am not kidding. This child got to address the conference and electrified the audience. He started listening to Bill Bennett on the radio when he was 4 or 5. He is careful to say that he is a conservative, not a Republican. He supports the Republican party because it supports his conservative tenets. This is frightening. Nor because this child is already indoctrinated into a specific worldview before his prefrontal cortex has fully formed. No, what is frightening is the dearth of leadership available to the conservatives and by association, the Republicans. (Let's be honest, there are only about 5 moderate Republicans left, I call them "unicorns")
Earlier in the week, our nation was treated to the prime-time debut of the Republican up and comer, Louisiana Governor, Bobby Jindal. He gave the Republican rebuttal to President Obama's address to the Congress. Now, our current president is a tough act to follow. But Bobby has been anointed by the de facto head of the Republican party, that sad clown, Rush Limbaugh. And if Rush likes it, it's gotta be good. Governor Jindal's name has been floating around as a possible presidential candidate in 2012. So here was his big chance to capture the attention of America.
Capture it he did. By talking to us like we are all 6 year olds. The title of the speech, "Americans Can Do Anything!" should have been a tip off. He delivery style varied from channeling Mr. Rogers to channeling Kenneth the Page from "30 Rock". When he was walking out, Chris Matthews of MSNBC was heard to utter "Oh God" on a live mike. David Brooks of the vaunted New York Times and no bleeding heart liberal called his speech "nihilistic". All in all, not an auspicious debut for the great hope for the Republican revival.
Why do I care? As a loyal Democrat, I should be reveling in the demise of the GOP. But I'm not, and here's why: we need a vibrant and vigorous Republican opposition, not this sad, Reagan redux. Remember, absolute power corrupts absolutely. Democrats need a smart Republican party because the country needs all the good ideas we can get. We are living in unprecedented times, and we have to have two political parties to step up to the plate. Right now we have one party of ideas and the other is the party of platitudes. Tax cuts alone are not going to save us, Republicans. Trickle down economics has lead to one the greatest wealth disparities that has ever existed in this country.
The scary part is it looks like the Republicans don't have any other ideas. And even scarier? They don't seem care. And we can't wait 22 years until Jonathan Krohn is ready to lead.