One of the things my dad once told me about the Republican party was that he was sad it was no longer a party of intellectuals.
To him, the Republican party used to stand for something.
It used to mean something.
George W. Bush could never have called himself a Republican 50 years ago, because he just wasn’t smart enough to stand for something that had any substance.
Richard Nixon lost to John F. Kennedy not because Kennedy had better ideas, he didn’t. Aside from the stuffed ballot boxes in Illinois, Nixon didn’t appeal to the American people because his campaign ads spent too much time sitting and talking at the American people about (gasp) the issues.
But even under the Bush administration you had thoughtful conservatives like Condi Rice, Colin Powell, and even Vice President Cheney, who, for all his faults, was an exceedingly smart man.
But something happened as I watched the RNC convention this week that was truly heartening.
The churlish behavior of the Tea Party was much more muted and subdued.
Speaker after speaker from the GOP took the stage and delivered with ideas, with passion and with vigor.
At perhaps no time in my lifetime has the Republican party been so rich with smart, bold reformers.
It was hard to watch Marco Rubio and not believe he would one day be president. Hard to watch Condi Rice speak with grace, charm, and her unmatched foreign policy acumen and not believe she was right to say that if she wanted to be, she could be president.
But lesser known names like Arthur Davis, Mia Love, Nikki Haley and others showed the resurgence of a party that doesn’t have to stand in the way of science. A party that can take the lead on economic issues with vastly superior ideas and the candidates capable of sharing their message with a broader populous.
Even the oft uninspiring Mitt Romney seemed sympathetic, human even. There’s no doubting his experience, his intelligence or his steadfastness, but his likability was a problem, much like Nixon.
I texted a friend during Rubio’s speech and jokingly wondered who the Democrats were going to put on the stage to fire up their own base.
Debbie Wasserman Schultz? Harry Reid?
Be still my heart.
The ideas of the Democratic party, as was repeated over and over this week, have been tried and failed.
The quazi-European socialist experiment has failed to create jobs, failed to stimulate the economy and failed the American people in the most disappointing of ways.
One of the indelible moments of this week, to me, was Mitt Romney saying he wished President Obama had succeeded because he wants America to succeed.
Barack Obama believes America must be changed to succeed. Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan and the Republican party believe America simply needs to get back to doing what it’s always done and that’s lead by example.
You can’t lead by example when the example you set fails.
As Rice said, we cannot lead from behind.
Luckily for the GOP, it showed this week it has the kind of leaders this country needs to get back innovating, growing, and most importantly, prospering.