06/28/11 — Shift to specifics: A leader will need concrete ideas to emerge from crowded GOP field

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Shift to specifics: A leader will need concrete ideas to emerge from crowded GOP field

The Republicans are coming.

That seemed to be the call recently when the party's stable of 2012 hopefuls gathered for the first of what will likely be many debates.

There were contrasts, of course, and differing views on what the role of a president should be -- that's to be expected.

However, in the end, there seemed to be two big issues for those who will try to unseat President Barack Obama -- the economy and America's future, both at home and abroad.

The former, of course, was much more of a topic than the latter. And that could be because many of those who gathered that evening think America is headed in the wrong direction and that the economy is one of the bellwethers sending a message that we made a wrong turn somewhere.

And, to a certain extent, they are right. Americans are a people who believe in hard work and entrepreneurship. Staying busy and making our own way -- along with a lot of hard labor and dedication -- have always been a part of who we are. Without that work ethic, we are lost.

Americans are also independent. We do not like to be told what to do and how to think -- at least most of us anyway -- so we do not like to think that government is taking over our lives and making decisions for us. While we might be lulled into a temporary stupor of believing that government programs and jobs are the way to go, in the end, we will realize that in the long run, we can make better decisions than those who sit in Washington, D.C., or Raleigh -- and that they work for us.

But none of that guarantees a Republican victory next fall.

And, hopefully, this year's roster of GOP hopefuls gets that.

We want ideas, concrete ones, about how a candidate for president will govern. Criticizing those who are in power is not enough, not this time. We need to have a real sense that this time, with this choice, we will see a shift back to the country our ancestors built and we cherish.

And if voters don't see that difference and hear new ideas, they will stay home next November.

Right now, the Republicans are in a crowded field. Standing out amongst the herd will require real leadership, an ability to express your ideas clearly and succinctly and a grasp on what Americans want for their country and its future.

Catch phrases won't work this time -- and neither will a Contract with America. And being anti-Democrat is not enough, either.

It is time for some meat on the bones. If there are stark differences in how you would run the country, outline the policy with specifics. That's how you convince people you are serious and a good choice to lead this nation into the next decade.

This first debate was civilized -- as it should have been. Voters want to hear ideas not bickering.

Let's hope that the Republicans carry that respect and interchange of ideas well into 2012.

True leaders do not waste time with name-calling and finger-pointing or other smear tactics. And that is what we are looking for this time around from Republicans -- a real leader.

And if, in the end, they cannot produce one, the GOP will have earned the right to lose -- again.

Published in Editorials on June 28, 2011 10:01 AM