Forward is a good direction in which to look, and a party that just had a very rough election cycle is smart to look forward as it considers how to present itself to the American people.
Let me take you back to 1988. The Republican Party had just won its third straight presidential election, and Democrats were in a sad place after nominating duds like Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis. It seemed to some of us that the Democrats would never win another presidential election.
But they regrouped and embraced new leadership. I have never been a fan of Bill Clinton, but his political skills are undeniable, and he found new ways to present the Democrats to the nation just as voters were tiring of the old brand of leadership.
Clinton did well because he thought and acted differently from the Democratic establishment of the time. His presidency was flawed in many ways, but he led the Democratic Party back from political oblivion. An old-school Democrat or a retread could not have done that.
This is the position in which the Republican Party now finds itself. I wrote back in January about the type of leadership that could restore the Republicans’ fortune, but at the time I didn’t name any names.
I think it’s time for names. At least I’d like to throw some into the discussion hopper.
When you think about people already on the scene who could conceivably lead the Republican Party into the near-term future, here are four names I find appealing:
Rep. Dan Crenshaw of Texas: An Iraq War veteran, Crenshaw is excellent on economic, national security and constitutional issues. He is also very effective at engaging with the culture and has shown himself to be a principled, independent thinker.
Just barely old enough to run for president at 36, Crenshaw is only in his second term in the House. It might be best to bring him to the forefront before Washington has more time to ruin him.
Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina: A small business owner in addition to his role as a senator, Scott is a strong believer in free markets and limited government. He is also an eloquent spokesman for conservative ideas and the principles of self-determination.
At 55, he has been in politics for more than 25 years and has worked his way up from the Charleston County Council.
Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota: Before she was elected governor in 2018, Noem was an important voice in Congress for tax reform – favoring lower rates and a simpler code. She also supported the Keystone XL pipeline and the overall reduction of U.S. dependence on foreign oil.
During the COVID pandemic, the 49-year-old Noem was one of the few American governors to resist stringent lockdowns, without worse infection and death rates than the states who did the opposite. She is bold and unafraid of media criticism, but she’s also serious about governing and doesn’t needlessly pick fights.
Sen. Rick Scott of Florida: During two terms as Florida’s governor, Scott built a solid record of job creation, debt reduction and crime reduction. He was also highly effective at leading the massive evacuation necessitated by Hurricane Irma.
Since becoming a U.S. senator in 2019, Scott has been a strong supporter of tax reform and deregulation. He is not young at 68, but his track record is exactly what you’d look for in a presidential candidate.
I’m sure many readers will have their own ideas, and we’d love to hear them in the comments. Hopefully, we all agree that the next leader of the Republican Party should be someone with serious policy ideas and strong leadership qualities – along with a personal humility that prioritizes duty and the best interests of the country.
We’ve had enough politicians who just wanted glory for themselves.
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