Ever since Mitt Romney had his motherboard handed to him on Election Day, Republicans have been wringing their hands and whining over what went wrong. This is even a question?
Some have argued the party needs to become more inclusive, more welcoming to other voices. Others have noted the GOP should try to become even loopier than it is now, if that was possible. But as long as Glenn Beck continues to draw a breath, it probably is.
Here's a good-faith suggestion that would go a long way toward re-establishing the Republican Party as a viable and competitive alternative on the national stage: Every party apparatchik and elected public official should be required to simply read the obituary of the late U.S. Sen. Warren Rudman, a New Hampshire Republican, who died at 82 just a few days ago.
You want to know what an intellectually honest, truly conservative Republican should look like? Warren Rudman is the template the GOP should seek to emulate in its future leaders. But he was also unerringly prescient as far back as 1996, when he predicted the coming takeover of the GOP by phony poseurs, extremists and used shark salesmen of faux conservative values.
In other words, he smelled Rush Limbaugh coming from light years away.
Rudman proved you could remain loyal to your political principles and still work across the aisle with the party opposite to achieve a common goal. He was the leading force behind the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Act of 1985, named after himself, Texas Republican Sen. Phil Gramm and South Carolina Democratic Sen. Ernest Hollings, which attempted to rein in government spending and reduce deficits.
Alas, the law over time fell victim to the political machinations of Washington. History has proven Rudman and his colleagues were right. Imagine the financial shape this country would be in today if Rudman's bipartisan vision had been followed.
As the New York Times obituary of Rudman noted, he believed in the rule of law. During the Reagan administration's Iran-Contra affair, when the United States covertly sold weapons to Iran to fund Nicaraguan anticommunist rebels, the senator took to task Lt. Col. Oliver North, who played a key role in the scandal.
The senator reminded the Marine officer that even though he personally agreed the rebels ought to be aided by the United States, Congress had enacted a law prohibiting it.
Law and order — what a concept.
"The American people have a right to be wrong," he chided North.
In his memoir, Rudman feared his party would eventually be overrun by Bible-thumping radicals with pitchforks, noting the GOP was dangerously courting "antiabortion zealots, would-be censors, homophobes, bigots and latter-day Elmer Gantrys to discredit any party that is unwise enough to embrace such a group."
Sound familiar? Look familiar?
If the Republican Party wants to be more relevant, for starters it needs fewer Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelsons, who confuse checkbooks with political discourse.
It needs fewer alternative reality pols like Michele Bachmann and Allen West and Newt Gingrich, who would probably make superb presidents — on the Planet Kalidnoid 7.
It needs fewer self-anointed bellicose king-makers like Karl Rove and Grover Norquist and Fox News, who have made being wrong about everything a master class in delusion.
It needs fewer candidates who view science as a capitulation to atheism or believe women possess a magic hormone to ward off rape, or get all dreamy over Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio when they encounter anyone with a an Hispanic surname.
It needs fewer paranoid fear-mongering tea party spear carriers, who see a commie behind every shrub, a black helicopter hovering over every house, a jack-booted storm trooper knocking on every door, all while continuing a fruitless scavenger hunt for a Kenyan birth certificate.
It needs fewer Donald Trumps simply because we all need fewer Donald Trumps.
It needs more Warren Rudmans, figures who live in a real world that needs real solutions to real problems, which can only be resolved by real grown-ups.
It needs more Warren Rudmans who don't regard Democrats as an enemy, or compromise as akin to treason.
It needs more Warren Rudmans because decency and integrity are in such short supply in our political wilderness.
It needs more Warren Rudmans who believe when they take an oath of office to serve and protect the nation above their own political ambitions they actually mean it.
Hope this helps.