Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Nelson Rockefeller, Call Your Office

Submitted by ASO member: Matthew E. Crow

I may be drummed out of the current version of the GOP for saying this, but Republicans need a Nelson Rockefeller to lead the party, now more than ever. The former governor of New York and Vice President to Gerald Ford was many things – billionaire, art lover, philanthropist, industrialist and ardent anti communist. In this age of political correctness, he would have been classified as a throwback – he could show genuine emotion in public -- he didn’t mind flipping the bird to hecklers. He was a progressive in economics and public works programs, and a staunch believer in the theory that good jobs could be created from private/public partnerships. He was not perfect, nobody is – yet, today’s rudderless GOP had better start looking for a Rockefeller if they hope to beat President Obama, a.k.a. Mr. Man in the Middle (or so he seems to be).

Message to the GOP intelligentsia: It’s the candidate, stupid.

A Dartmouth graduate, Rockefeller was born into one of the 20th Century’s greatest fortunes. However, curious as it appeared, Rocky didn’t seem all that enthralled with his wealth. Liberals will opine he didn’t need to concern himself with the mundane toil of everyday life when those kinds of bucks where at his fingertips, but Rockefeller genuinely didn’t let his riches get to him. He invested quite a bit of himself, personally, and professionally, to helping Middle America gain a larger foothold in the economy. Name one billionaire today willing to get tangled up with politics – there isn’t one willing to do it, save for Ebay’s Whitman.

It is true that Rockefeller tried to buy his way into the Presidency more than once and was shot down – but, it was his money to spend and lose, and not the PAC and union zillions we have to contend with today. In this day and age, Rockefeller would be viewed with suspicion and skepticism just as he was 40 years ago – although a reflective and introspective GOP could look beyond the intellectual decay of the sound bite and the hardliners who inhabit the fringe boundaries of the “party” to recognize that Rockefeller had it right – that government does have a role to play in economic development, that government does have a role to play in the improvement of life in this country – roles that do not bludgeon Americans to their knees with higher taxes but helps them get off their knees with effective government programs – measurable in their results and accountable in their actions.

“Rockefeller Republican” could be the label that wins votes during the upcoming election cycles. It is not important to educate voters who exactly Rockefeller was – it’s probably not important at this point – but his politics seem more interesting than ever.

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