In a rousing speech at a Democratic Leadership Council convention in May of 1991, then-Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton stood before a crowd gathered in Cleveland and delivered his vision of a resurgent Democratic Party.
At the time, Democrats were struggling to gain traction in the middle of a third consecutive Republican presidential term. Clinton effectively sold his party on a new moderate message, calling for a more active federal government, capable of both tackling a diverse set of domestic problems and underscoring the value of personal responsibility.
"We have got to have a message that touches everybody, that makes sense to everybody, that goes beyond the stale orthodoxies of left and right, one that resonates with the real concerns of ordinary Americans, with their hopes and their fears," Clinton said.
He later highlighted the same rhetoric in describing the challenges faced by many of the urban poor.
"Those people do not care about the rhetoric of left and right and liberal and conservative and who is up and who is down and how we are positioned," Clinton said. "They are real people, they have real problems, and they are crying desperately for someone who believes the purpose of government is to solve their problems and make progress, instead of posturing around and waiting for the next election."
In July of 1991, Clinton announced his candidacy for the White House, and the rest is history.
Twenty-two years later, the Republican Party finds itself facing a similar problem in terms of national direction. With some of the GOP's top figures actively engaged in divisive intraparty turmoil, the party is tasked with presenting someone who can unite Republicans under a cohesive message ahead of the 2016 election.
While the GOP faces problems beyond that -- shifting demographics and a potential Hillary Clinton presidential run, just to name a few -- it certainly won't win an election without a candidate.
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