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Who Speaks for Republicans? Who Cares?

There mainstream media and the Left are all over themselves in recent weeks, trying to pin Republicans down on who leads our party. Is Rush Limbaugh our leader? Is it Mitch McConnell? Or is it Sarah Palin, or John Boehner, or Michael Steele, or someone else?

You can rest assured of two things:

  1. The only reason they want to know is so that they can figure out whom to destroy, and;
  2. It doesn’t matter.


The Republican party doesn’t have one leader right now. And that’s OK. It’s not a bad thing that a party which has been decimated in two successive elections, and which has no power in Washington, is not seen as having any one leader. The good news is that everyone who aspires to leadership agrees on the need for the GOP to get back to advocating smaller and more responsible government, more individual freedom, and strong national defense. On these points, there’s a stunning degree of unity.

It’s worth contrasting that with the Democratic party, which is torn by internal conflicts on a host of issues: the war on terror, treatment of detainees, deficits, spending, health care, energy reform, taxation, guns, ethics, congressional reform, etc. Perhaps the media should be asking who leads the Democratic party. Is it the same liberals who have been ascendant since the 1970s – people like Charlie Rangel, Henry Waxman, Barney Frank, and others – or is it the rump group of moderates and Blue Dogs who are afraid of being punished for adopting the liberal policies that the party nominally holds? Because Congressional leaders are spending more time threatening and cajoling dissidents than they are implementing their policies.

Who leads the Republicans? No one. But even ‘leaderless,’ we’re doing better in many ways than the Democrats. And that’s OK; it’s normal for a party out of power. If you don’t believe me, you can even ask David Axelrod. Here’s part of an article from USA Today, almost exactly 8 years ago:

USA TODAY
August 8, 2001, Wednesday, FINAL EDITION
No clear leader of Dems, poll says
BYLINE: Susan Page
SECTION: NEWS; Pg. 1A

WASHINGTON — Former vice president Al Gore begins his return to the political scene this weekend with events in Nashville, and former president Bill Clinton opened his office in Harlem last week with a celebration that drew live coverage on cable TV.

But more than six months after a Republican president took over the White House, neither Gore nor Clinton nor anyone else has emerged as the clearly recognized leader of the opposition.

Asked who is the leader of the Democratic Party, a 51% majority in a new USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll didn’t have an opinion.

The next most frequent answer, at 10%: No one.

The findings illustrate a classic problem for the party out of power: It doesn’t speak with a single voice. That can make it more difficult to articulate a coherent case against the side that claims the presidential bully pulpit.

“It’s the nature of being the party out of power,” says David Axelrod, a Democratic consultant based in Chicago.

Democratic strategist Gina Glantz calls the scattered results “symptomatic of what happens when a new president arrives on the scene and everything is reactive to him.”

Does the out-of-power party need a leader? Ask David Axelrod. He’s the genius who gets the credit for the bang-up job Democrats are doing with supermajorities in both the House and Senate, and the White House.

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