David Gergen on the GOP

I quote: “This is a party that hasn’t yet found its leader.”

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than forty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • Michael Fox

    That’s a story line that’s being perpetuated as a weakness. It is, in reality, the norm of every presidential primary season. Recall how the Democratic Party could not decide until late whether they would be led by Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Obama.

  • http://communityofjesus.wordpress.com/ Ted M. Gossard

    I sure wish I could hear him (hoping it’s available online, most of them are, this one not!!) at Calvin College’s January Series this year. http://www.calvin.edu/january/2012/gergen.htm
    He is a wise man in the world of American politics.

    As to the GOP, it is so skewed to me, because these candidates have to appeal to a base which is so completely foreign to me. Be it left or right. I’m not sure in a way I’ll want to know who won the presidential election, come November.

  • Larry Barber

    Actually, the Republican leader is sitting in the White House. Everything they do is dictated by Obama, they don’t have a positive agenda or vision of their own, they just react to Obama, so he is really their leader. They are almost entirely motivated by a visceral hatred of all things Obama. Which is really strange because Obama has been almost Republican in what he has done in the White House, I doubt Wall Street ever had a better friend in the White House. I think this has something to do with why so many of the Republican candidates seem so crazy, I mean, where do you have to be standing so that Obama looks like a socialist?

    Even if they do win in November, what are they going to do? Just keep on hatin’ on Obama?

  • James

    @Michael Fox

    Agreed. This time four years ago the Dem’s were thought to have had their leader: Hillary Clinton.

    I was thinking while reading a different article just a few minutes ago that the meme that the rough GOP nomination process this year will surely lead to an Obama victory because of the jabs seems to miss one very important thing. The perspective of history, particularly Obama’s own. There was some real nastiness in the Obama/Clinton fight, so much so that many questioned if she would/could really serve as SofS afterward. He was still elected, she still serves. The same trajectory could easily play out in the GOP this year.

  • http://communityofjesus.wordpress.com/ Ted M. Gossard

    Interesting thought, Larry.

    Our country is so divided that it would indeed take a special kind of leader whether from either side, to really get some sort of consensus going. I think President Obama failed in that way as a leader, I think he was a bit in over his head when taking office. Quite sharp, and I like him, actually, but not enough experience, my guess. It is a tough time to govern. Someone with Solomonic wisdom is needed now.

  • http://cramercomments.blogspot.com D C Cramer

    Maybe so, Ted, although things didn’t turn out that well for old Solomon either, did they? His country became so divided that it actually divided!

  • http://homewardbound-cb.blogspot.com ChrisB

    The word you’re looking for is “Duh.” I second Michael’s comment.

  • http://communityofjesus.wordpress.com/ Ted M. Gossard

    D.C., Yep. Good point. I think we American Christians get way too excited about Washington D.C. It has its place of importance, surely. But I thought the kingdom of God come in Jesus resides with us in Jesus, his church. Certainly nothing ever in Washington!

    Be that as it may, we still can hope and pray for a good leader for this nation, and for other nations as well. One who somehow is open to wisdom from God. While at the same time we should never get too up or down over any of this, I think.

  • DSO

    Ted @8, good advice. Way too many get ramped up about politics. I wonder what role the 24 hr. cable news shows have to do with this. Some stations are constantly having a focus on ‘who’s up / who’s down.’

    On the other hand, NFL wildcard playoffs this weekend.

  • MattR

    It seems there has been an at least three way divide in the GOP for years now, and whoever their candidate is will have to find some sort of coalition.

    The Iowa vote showed this divide is alive and well… You have: the Social Conservatives (Santorum), The Moderates/Trad GOP (Romney), and the Economic Conservatives/Libertarians (Paul).

    Not a Republican, so not voting in this primary… but will be interested to see where the majority of the GOP lands.

  • http://kalebnyquist.wordpress.com/ Kaleb

    I think a more insightful quote from Gergen’s article is found at the conclusion: “the GOP is still, at best, a party that’s looking for a standard-bearer — or, more dangerously for their 2012 prospects, a disunited collection of smaller groups of voters still pushing their own.”

    Have to highlight what Larry @3 said, that the GOP doesn’t have a positive vision of its’ own. Romney’s front-runner status has been largely due to the belief that he can beat Obama. It seems the only thing holding together the GOP identity is a hatred of Obama. Supposing a GOP win in November (Presidency and Congress), the party in charge of the nation would internally fracture as soon as Obama left office, along lines like MattR @10 suggested.

    Granted, it would not be the end of the world if this were to happen. To a lesser degree, Obama rode a wave of anti-Bush sentiment himself, and despite some disillusionment among his supporters the nation hasn’t fallen apart. But it is a vicious and unnecessary(!) cycle of hating on whoever is in charge, instead of cultivating positive visions of the possible, that our political culture is spiraling down into.

  • Michael Fox

    No. 11. . .again, a storyline that’s being perpetuated. The GOP is largely one on limited government (relatively speaking), lower spending (including entitlement and Medicare reform), lower taxes, strong defense, encouraging small business, immigration reform. From my point of view, GOP candidates have not run against Obama for fear that any objection on policy will result in cries of personal and racial prejudice. Don’t believe everything you hear, or think.

  • DLS

    ” It seems the only thing holding together the GOP identity is a hatred of Obama.”

    - It baffles me how quickly people forget the last cycle. Every single political analyst on both sides will acknowledge that Bush hate drove 2008 more than anything else. It’s stunning how fast we forget and pretend that it was otherwise.

  • DLS

    And to be clear, I realize you acknowledged that in your post (@11), so that’s not directed at you or your post. I’m merely pointing out generally that the party out the white house runs against the person on the white house every single election.

  • DLS

    By the way, to the point of Gergen’s article, he’s right that other candidates are still being considered. There are well organized groups running polling on (and perhaps on behalf of) Jeb Bush, for example. Personally, I refuse to vote for another Bush, even though Jeb would’ve been a much better president. Political dynasties are very bad for a democracy, and I think many R’s would recoil at the idea of a third president in 20 years from the same family. As well they should.

  • http://kalebnyquist.wordpress.com/ Kaleb

    Michael @12, just to be clear, I agree that this is a storyline being perpetuated, but the mere fact it is being perpetuated does not inherently mean it is false (although many Democrats and Obama campaigners will be quick to put an apocalyptic spin to it, for obvious reasons). There is such a thing as a legitimate concern worth talking about and sharing with others.

    You gave an admirable and principled vision of the GOP party. But with indefinite and relative words like “lower”, “strong” and “reform” that is a broad umbrella with multiple interpretations that even Obama could stand under and only get one shoulder wet, while the entire Santorum power base (pro-life, traditional definition of marriage, he’s a nice guy) is left in the rain. Which I think illustrates the struggle of accurately defining the GOP of 2012.

    Of course, as I need to remind myself, the primary election process is largely about finding a party’s identity. There is still an opportunity for the GOP to find itself and transcend the mistake the Democrats made in 2008, which DLS @13,14 pointed out. The way things are going doesn’t give me much hope, but I am willing and hoping to be proven wrong in the months to come.

  • Amos Paul

    Conservative libertarian that I am, I see little difference between the repubs or democs other than a particular flavor of rhetoric and a team colored scoreboard. The two do so ever struggle to re-define themselves in opposition (but not really) to whatever the other side is doing.

  • Richard

    @ 16

    Yep. When ticking off the ideals of the GOP, Obama fits in quite well, which is one reason why progressives tend to laugh when folks like Gingrich, etc call him a socialist.

  • DLS

    It will be interesting to see if the left (including blogs and blog commenters) sticks with the ‘there’s no real difference’ next August through November. :)


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