Since President Barack Obama’s presidential term began, it is safe to say that Republicans have been, for lack of a better term, leaderless. Though united in their stance against Obama’s policies, Republicans themselves have been divided in their views of progress.
Many in the party are now looking for a candidate who has the traits of the next Republican leader. The party is looking for someone who, when he speaks, people listen, and when he proposes action, people follow. The Democrats have that in Obama, but does anyone in the Republican Party fit that description?
In recent months, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio are two people who could be considered the new face of the GOP. Both are unique and driven individuals looking to become “the next Ronald Reagan” for a group that has failed to fill that role in recent years.
Governor Christie has been mentioned by many of those in the media as a potential presidential candidate due to his brash, in-your-face style and his demand for action of those around him. According to a poll by Quinnipiac University, he has a 74 percent approval rating in his state.
One problem Christie faces is his willingness to cross the aisle and work with Democrats. While there is nothing inherently wrong with working across party lines, it has distanced him from some conservatives, who see the presidential nomination as a role for someone who refuses to settle.
According to the National Review, Christie was not invited to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference because of his conflicts with the National Rifle Association and the concerns of some Conservative Political Action Conference sources that he is not “the future of conservatism.”
Then there is Sen. Marco Rubio, who gave the official Republican response to Obama’s State of the Union address. Rubio has been called a “rising star in the Republican Party” by the Washington Post, the New York Post and many other news outlets. His heritage as the son of Cuban immigrants provides an opportunity for Republicans to reach out to minorities.
Rubio has also proposed immigration legislation that would give illegal immigrants a path to citizenship. This would certainly help Republicans get more votes from minorities, but is not an extremely popular idea with the Republican base.
Another problem is Rubio’s inconsistent explanations of his parents’ immigration to the U.S. from Cuba. The Washington Post discovered in 2011 that Rubio had embellished his parents’ account, making it seem more dramatic than it actually was. For all the controversy Republicans caused concerning Obama’s place of birth, they can expect a similar response by Democrats should Rubio be nominated.
Christie and Rubio could both eventually be leaders in the Republican Party despite perceived flaws, but it would be hard to say they are right now.
If they are leadership material, then who else would it be?
Speaker of the House John Boehner cannot even get Congress to follow his lead. Last December, during the fiscal crisis, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives refused to vote on his proposal to resolve the fiscal cliff.
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul gave the Tea Party response to the State of the Union address, but his libertarian views sometimes take him to extremes that can turn away voters.
Congressman Paul Ryan has played a significant role in shaping Republican budget proposals, but he had a very difficult time defending and explaining his own proposals during the vice presidential debates.
Many other accomplished Republican politicians that could be mentioned, but that very fact is further proof that no one has stepped up to the plate nor developed the support needed to be a true face for the GOP.
What the Republican Party does have is a bunch of potential presidential candidates all vying to be the 2016 nominee. No singular Republican official has admitted to having definite plans to enter the Republican primary, but many are certainly weighing the effects of their choices now in order to be in position for a presidential run.
The next three years could bring about fighting and confusion as Republicans compete to be the next presidential nominee, or someone could rise above the chaos and become the leader that is needed.
The last election cycle left Republicans leaderless and divided. What will happen in the next remains to be seen.