The following is a letter sent by Bobby Jindal, governor of Louisiana, to the leaders of the Republican Party. At least I wish it was.
From: Bobby Jindal [firstname.lastname@example.org]
To: John Boehner [email@example.com], Michael Steele [firstname.lastname@example.org], Rush Limbaugh [email@example.com]
Sent: Thursday, March 26 at 7:23 am
Dear Messrs. Boehner, Steele, and Limbaugh
After reading Jake DeSantis' resignation letter in yesterday's New York Times, I was inspired for the first time in months. And so it is with deep regret that I submit my notice of resignation from the Republican Party. I hope you take the time to read this entire letter. Before describing the details of my decision, I want to offer some context:
I was raised on this party. I converted to Catholicism because I believe in family values. I changed my name to Bobby because of The Brady Bunch for goodness' sake! I have been a GOPer all my life, drawn to Republicans' ideals and ideas for as long as I can remember.
But it's impossible to be inspired by ideals and ideas when they no longer exist.
It's understandable that you don't yet have a plan. I expected as much; it happens any time one side gets so completely decimated. But this has gotten ridiculous. Judd Gregg went on Morning Joe yesterday to say that Republicans don't have a responsibility to offer alternatives. Really?? In the middle of an economic meltdown (which we helped create), with two wars going (which we launched), our only role is to criticize? You guys are out to lunch. And for the last few months, I've been out to lunch with you. Check please.
I tried it your way, making rebuttal speeches and turning down stimulus money, and it's only hurt my 2012 chances against Sarah Palin. Like DeSantis wrote, I'm not responsible for this mess. And I'm not going to be part of the cleanup without having something beyond complaints to contribute. But here's the rub: I do have ideas to offer. I just can't get a (coherent) word in with you guys babbling on at this fever pitch. I've called this a resignation, but the better word is "secession." Teddy Roosevelt had the right idea in 1912 with the Bull Moose party; he just had it too late. I am going to start a New GOP, a party with proposals that the American people can relate to. Once you guys get your act together, feel free to join.
The first agenda item for our new party is to say what everyone already knows--"we screwed up and we're sorry." As any good relationship therapist will tell you, healing does not start until you admit the truth. Second, I'll make it clear that I want the President to succeed in these historically trying times. Anything less is simply unpatriotic. Next I'll gather our new team--hopefully Charlie Crist, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tim Pawlenty, the three stimulus Senators, perhaps Jeff Flake and a few others--and together we'll unveil practical, thoughtful proposals to the five biggest problems facing the country. I've learned a lesson from Obama, and from Reagan before him. You can't offer tweaks on the conventional wisdom and expect to inspire. You need new ideas. Radical ideas, even. The following proposals may feel like a stretch, but a stretch is the only thing that will work.
On education, we will support not just merit pay for teachers, but a dramatic increase in funding to put top-flight charter schools in every low-income neighborhood in America and to offer free college tuition for every honors student from a poor family. This $100 billion plan will cost real money, but $70 billion less than what we have handed AIG. On the economy, we'll offer a comprehensive plan to rebuild the financial system, both on Wall Street and beyond. Are you familiar with Jeffrey Sachs' "Good Bank, Bad Bank" ideas? Believe it or not, that's where the New GOP is headed. We won't just toss around the phrase "Main Street"--we'll support a suspension of payroll taxes to get cash in the pockets of middle- and working-class Americans immediately. We'll propose a limited five-year income tax increase to 39% for the wealthiest Americans, and go further than Obama on defense spending cuts. He says we can get $1.5 trillion out of there? I think we can find $2 trillion, and I think the American people agree. When it comes to foreign policy, health care, and energy, we will offer similarly radical but practical ideas. No more of this Dick Cheney head-in-the-sand stuff. Did you see him on CNN? Embarrassing.
I realize that policy alone isn't enough to repair our image, even as we develop this new brand. So the New GOP will recruit candidates. I want the best of the best, which requires true diversity--not tokenism in a sea of good ol' boys. After we put out that call to professors, Silicon Valley innovators, pro athletes, teachers, writers and others (perhaps accountants?) we're going to run a New GOP candidate against your standard-bearer in every district in the country. Will we win them all? Heck no. We won't even win most. But I guarantee you we'll see dozens of new faces on Capitol Hill with fresh ideas on everything from combating the meth problem to redefining our approach on Darfur. And, eventually, we'll develop our own Obama--organically. Even though I was the one you put forward, you can't find that revolutionary candidate in the trumped-up, half-cocked fashion the GOP has employed in the last five months.
I know this must be disappointing. But I simply cannot keep blindly going down this hope-Obama-fails road any longer. I was embarrassed to see you guys pretend to be willing to work with the President, to see Mike do jumping jacks for Rush, to see myself become a walking punchline. We're all better than that. At least we used to be.
I'm sorry, guys. I know you were hoping I could challenge Obama. And I can. Just not with you. I'm taking my campaign money--my "retention bonus," if you will--and donating it to my new favorite charity, one determined to actually get America out of this mess: the New GOP.
PS: Please stop calling me Bobby