Congressional Republican leaders have gone AWOL. The political battlefield is now dominated by the left, with timid Republicans reduced to wringing their hands about keeping their jobs in 2014.
That's the most serious take-away from Byron York's Aug. 12 column, titled, "House at risk in 2014 unless GOP offers agenda."
It has gotten so bad that the actions of a rodeo clown in rural Missouri with an Obama mask now dominates the debate. This is what happens under a de facto one-party system. Fortunately it can be remedied.
As combat arms leaders in the Army, we were taught to be aggressive and proactive. This enabled us to get inside our enemies' "decision cycle," forcing them to disrupt their plans and react to our moves.
With them on their heels, we took the initiative and accomplished our objective. History's best military minds, from Alexander to Patton, were geniuses at this.
Right now, the Republican leadership is in a total react mode, while Democrats command the political battlefield. Democrats are framing the issues, driving the debate and forcing nervous Republicans to react to liberal initiatives on everything from immigration to Obamacare. Or rodeo clowns.
York's piece is an implicit admission by Republicans on the Hill that the Democrats are driving the debate and that the GOP has no ideas other than holding on until 2014.
Sounds like someone is playing prevent defense, which is never a good idea when you are behind (just ask Mitt). Frankly, if Republicans can't do any better than this, better to show them the door in 2014.
Instead of fretting about their jobs, Republicans should start focusing on why we sent them to Washington in the first place, which is to champion conservative principles.
They need to start rolling out ideas, driving the debate and forcing Democrats to react to them. That was the appeal of a Newt Gingrich; he lived rent-free inside the Democrats' decision cycle because he had big ideas and he wasn't afraid to articulate them.
Here are two ideas to get the Republicans started:
• Obamacare: Fix it or lose it. Insist that implementation of Obamacare be delayed for two years while a bipartisan commission of professionals and politicians sifts through the mountain of ideas and legislation to make something viable and affordable. If Democrats won't accede to this reasonable request, then refuse to fund it.
• Immigration: No amnesty. Instead, propose a guest worker bond for illegals. Ten thousand dollars gets them a one-year bond and an ID card that synchs with E-Verify. Our guest worker pays taxes and after a year surrenders his card, gets his $10k back, and leaves. Oh, and border security is nonnegotiable.
These initiatives may not be comprehensive. However they are sound, conservative proposals that have broad appeal and can put Republicans back on the political battlefield and into liberals' decision cycle where, sadly, they are now disturbingly AWOL.
Patrick Murray is a retired U.S. Army colonel who was the Republican nominee for U.S. Congress in Northern Virginia in 2010 and 2012. He resides in Alexandria.