The GOP’s Choice: To Lead, Or to Cheerlead?

By Cinzia Croce

Just like the employer who is convinced that what’s really necessary to boost workforce morale is a motivational speaker rather than a wage increase, the GOP establishment is convinced that just one more pep talk about the need to be ‘optimistic’ and to ‘not give into fear’ is just what is needed to rein in the recalcitrant base that won’t let go of their infatuation with Trump.  In a gorgeous Capitol Hill committee room with several American flags serving as background, Speaker Paul Ryan delivered a speech about the state of American politics before an audience filled with young interns — after all: there is nothing more uplifting than speaking to young people, for they are our future! His blue eyes sparkling more than usual and his voice was filled with the eagerness of a young lover, Ryan spoke about the American founding ideals, the need for civility, and his desire for politics to be an aspirational battle of ideas.

In other words: the same drivel that the Republican consultant class finds irresistible but falls on deaf ears outside the Beltway.

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It was the same speech that Jeb! delivered during his “joyful tortoise” phase of his campaign, when the brightest Republican political strategists concluded that the best way to defeat Trump was to ignore him. After months of talking about his hopeful vision for America and millions of dollars in advertising touting his conservative record as Florida governor, Jeb languished at the bottom of the polls, as the voters just didn’t seem interested in ‘optimism.’ Eventually, the tortoise campaign found its final resting place on the beaches of South Carolina.

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