How Can Republicans Lead Without A Leader?

November 22, 2010

(ChattahBox Op/Ed) – As I shared with you last week, the Republican mandate in the last election was not a mandate for Republicans at all but a rebuke of the direction of where the country is headed, or perceived to be headed.  This is not a matter of my opinion, but a matter of fact.  For all the talk of a conservative wave and a third party that is reenergizing the Republican extreme, not the base, it left me wondering and pondering where this will take us as we being the 112th Congress in a few short weeks.

Speculation runs rampant and as political posturing has become front line business inside the Beltway, there is one thing that is going unnoticed.  The Republican Party has no one central leader; no one person who personifies and exemplifies the change we supposedly seek, and no easily identifiable messenger for whatever the mandate is supposed to be, and in these political times, that is quite odd, but also telling.

There have always been political figures that by name defined change.  Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Bill Clinton.  These were leaders whose strength, message, vision, and courage came after periods of great trouble and transition.  Passing through the fires of adversity our collective society has been honed and shaped by thought and action.  Even during attempts of failed ideas, leadership and tenacity prevailed and all great transitional leaders, their faults aside, created dramatic change and continue to be iconic in the way most remember them, even if there is disagreement.

We are a country that does not fear change, but that doesn’t mean it comes easy or without victims and body counts, both literal and figurative.  So we find ourselves in that moment now.  Our country finds itself confused, concerned, and contemplative.  We are in an information age that moves so fast that before we can correct a misstep it has already become lore.  Uneducating an electorate has become as common as educating an electorate and that is a new wrinkle to our still young democracy.

Words have replaced deed and that is troublesome as we have recently learned by the last election results, but those same results do have an important message to them and a valid one as well.  Depending on your political point of view one will differ on what we want and how we want it.  When elections are won not on ideas but on philosophy, we have a problem, and boy oh boy, do we have a problem.  It kind of begs the question that we can save a discussion for another time, but what do we want?  You say you want change, but what kind of change?  What kind of policies?  What direction?  You get my point.

Now we have realities to deal with:  treaties and trade agreements, economic growth and job creation, and many, many more and that require leadership.

Whatever Party holds the White House always has their leader.  The also rans usually have a leader, someone who is the Sheppard of the message, a harbinger of their truth, a central figure to look to for guidance and direction.  Someone, who no matter what is a stalwart and a touchstone of their policy and ideology.  So I’ll ask the question:  Who is that Republican?

I’m not being a smart ass here, who is it?  Is it soon to be House majority leader John Boehner?  Is it one of the dozen names that are being offered as potential Republican candidates for the Presidency in 2012?  Is it Michael Steele, the Chairman of the Republican Party?  Who?

The Democrats have Barack Obama, and you are already seeing that he is starting to figure out that leadership means more than vision and accomplishment.  That is a good thing not just for Democrats but for all of us.

And the Republicans have….

Keeping in mind that it is your friends and neighbors that voted for “change”; it is the men and women you work with and drink with and have dinner with.  It is the lady that sells you flowers you give to your wife or the gas station attendant that takes your cash when you fill up the car.  They are the people that wanted change, and now that we are on the brink of this supposed change who will lead the charge and what will the message be?

Let’s be fair, OK?  What happened on November 2, 2010 was a clarion call to the President and those who represent us that we need to move the country in another direction.  We all can agree on that, but when you went to the voting place in your community and voted for a Republican what were you voting for?  A person?  An idea?  An opportunity?  I don’t think you know.

There is not a leadership void in the country on the Democratic side of the political aisle.  There is a leadership void on the Republican side and you cannot lead without a leader or a messenger that brings together a central idea that is more than just about taking away what we already have.

The Republicans have a plethora of problems: Sarah Palin, the Tea Party, no leadership, and no real agenda to move the country forward that makes sense in this current economic reality we are living in.  Republicans have no interest in protecting the average American and their ongoing protection of wealth and corporate greed, a central mainstay of that Party for decades now, is not enough to help you and me.

These are interesting problems for the Republicans.  They have some power and no one person to unify and strengthen their potential.  They are also so focused on getting credit that they seem to be in no hurry to anoint a leader, and honestly, that’s just bad business.

Tony Trupiano is a former national syndicated progressive radio talk show host, author, and a former candidate for Congress. He is also a nationally recognized media trainer.  He can be reached at and can read his Blog at


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