Opinion: Here’s Why Republicans Need a New Leader

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There is little argument that the Republican party is in great need of rebranding; 2013 was not an easy year for them. One could argue that it was not a particularly easy year regarding public image for the federal government as whole. America’s problems are multifaceted and complex. But from the results of polls and anecdotal evidence, it is clear the nation is in crisis and the federal government is most often cited as the problem. Gallup’s annual Mood of the Nation poll, conducted in the first week of the new year, gave a snapshot of how American citizens view the government, its efficiency, and its leadership. Nearly 65 percent of respondents said they were dissatisfied with how the American governmental system works, and that dissatisfaction has arisen from the fact that Congress and the president appear to have become sidetracked by partisan battles that have taken on more importance than the myriad of issues at hand.

The 113th Congress earned the reputation of the least productive in history, sending fewer than 70 bills to President Barack Obama for his signature and making the infamous “do-nothing Congress” of the late 1940s appear active. “Any way you measure it, quantitatively it stands out as an unusually unproductive session of Congress,” Thomas Mann, a Brookings Institution scholar, told The Los Angeles Times. Mann is the coauthor of a book on legislative dysfunction titled It’s Even Worse Than It Looks. “The problem is not the number of bills,” he said, “but what Congress specifically did that ended up inflicting harm rather than creating conditions for improved performance.”

For the Republican party, the problem is the accusations of practicing partisan politics to the extreme has backfired, ringing much louder than they have for the Democrats. Indeed, in many ways the GOP became the party of “no,” the party of taking stands. “The Republicans have, since taking the majority in the 2010 elections, operated like a parliamentary opposition party,” Mann explained. “The problem is we don’t have a parliamentary system of government. Simply doing what you want to do and can do with your own party is meaningless.” Republican leaders have insisted they are not responsible for the dearth of new laws, but the fact that they have had to defend the party’s legislative record so strongly suggests that the party needs a rebranding.

Republicans said no to the healthcare reform; not a single GOP lawmaker in the House voted for the Affordable Care Act during its passage in 2010, and House Republicans voted dozens of times in the following years to refund or repeal all or parts of Obamacare. After expressing desire to tackle the issue of illegal immigration this year, Republican party leadership said no to immigration reform. Further, with growing concerns for reelection in heavily conservative, gun-friendly states, a majority of lawmakers in the Democrat-led Senate said no to legislation banning assault-style weapons requiring expanded background checks for gun purchasers, even though polls showed a strong majority of Americans supported such measures.

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