Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Fortuno's Victory in Puerto Rico Brings Hope to Moderate Republicans

Addendum to my last post about Ann Coulter and Chip Saltsman.

This morning as I read through the Wall Street Journal I came upon clear evidence that reasonable-minded and principled Republicans were just as sick as I am of the right-wing nut jobs of the conservative movement (*see Ann Coulter) garnering the lion's share of media attention as the nation prepares to close the door on the Bush/Cheney presidency and celebrate the innauguration of president-elect Obama.

Easha Anand put the spotlight on the newly-elected governor of Puerto Rico Luis Fortuno in this morning's Journal. The 48-year old Hispanic politician (pictured above) is the kind of candidate many Republicans see as the real future of the party.

At Georgetown University he subscribed to the William F. Buckley-founded National Review and counts Ronald Reagan as his hero.

Part of that future is certainly Republican Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. Elected in the fall of 2007, he was the first Indian-American and first non-white politician since Reconstruction elected to the office of governor in the state of Louisiana.

Jindal and Fortuno are part of the base of a potential bridge to the millions of conservative Hispanic, African-American and other minority voters the GOP often ignores in the planks of their political platform and alienates in the execution of their core ideals; a few politicians not withstanding.

Certainly the National Black Republican Association might take issue with that statement. The short-list for GOP party head includes two African-American men.

Michael Steele has become more familiar on the national stage in recent years. The bespectacled former Maryland lieutenant governor addressed the party delegates at last summer's Republican National Convention.

His views are seen as somewhat more moderate than fellow black Republican Party chair-candidate J. Kenneth Blackwell, the ex-secretary of state of Ohio (a critical battleground for presidential delegates. Blackwell led a 2004 Ohio amendment to ban recognition of same-sex marriages, supports gun ownership rights and opposes abortion.

Those positions might sound conservative but they mirror the views of millions of African-American and other minority voters the GOP has yet to put out the welcome mat for.

When Jindal first won in Louisiana there was definitely something of a magical quality to his public personae and his eloquence. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina and serious questions about government responses to the crisis he seemed to symbolize and radiate a sense of hope.

His intelligence and forthright manner remind me very much of a Democratic candidate who moved from notoriety as a state politician to national office with incredible speed - Barack Obama.

Jindal "has that", back in October I blogged that he was going to change the face of the Republican party. He was born in 1960 and raised in a middle-class suburban environment with parents who instilled a combination of conservative traditional Indian and American values into his character along with a genuine love for the nation.

No coincidence that the Fortuno piece ran in the Wall Street Journal either.

Irrespective of your opinion of Rupert Murdoch it's an excellent newspaper that bears the standard of what I consider (for the most part) to be a progressive, pro-capitalist conservative mindset.

It's the perspective of many (I suspect) who silently yearn to distance the GOP from it's current conventional wisdom tag as a party that has no interest in appealing to a wider spectrum of Americans that represent different races, religions, backgrounds, sexual orientation and nationalities.

Guys like Furtuno and Jindal are the Republican party's first steps on the long road back to a White house they probably won't see until at least 2016 at the earliest. After their bruising defeats in the recent elections the GOP is clearly facing an immediate, crucial and defining moment in their party's history.

Let's face it people, from a pure media perspective, the Republican Brand is dead in the water.

Will they shift their ideals to embrace the America that is, or will they continue to give off the impression that they're scared of it?

As long as Republican Party chair-candidate Chip Saltsman can send copies of "Barack the Magic Negro" out to the current members of the Republican National Committee as Christmas presents, that Elephant ain't gonna hunt.

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