MICHAEL SMERCONISH, INQUIRER COLUMNIST
POSTED: Sunday, November 3, 2013, 2:02 AM
There’s a move among some of the adults remaining in the GOP to lead the party on a path that regains its footing. Take Gov. Christie, who has been running a campaign commercial touting his record of “compromise,” a dirty word in Washington. Or Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, who, while running for reelection, has been speaking out against those who keep “voting scorecards” and who recently proclaimed on the stump, “I’m not in the shut-down-the-government crowd.” Even Ohio Gov. John Kasich recently voiced concern with what he sees as “a war on the poor.”
But the Republican leader who has offered the most comprehensive and cogent case for the party’s future is former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, who did so in a recent address to an LGBT group in Washington. (Read it at logcabin.org.)
Ridge told a Washington gathering of Log Cabin Republicans on Oct. 23 that he sees the GOP of the 21st century as “a nonjudgmental conservative party – a winning party,” and then (like Alexander), Ridge took aim at litmus tests.
“Two Republican presidents changed my life in a very personal and meaningful way,” Ridge said. “One called on me to serve my country in Vietnam. The other asked me to serve my country after the attacks of 9/11. Neither president asked me my position on social issues.”
Ridge applauded the way in which Ronald Reagan confronted liberals. (“See, he was respectful. He was civil. He was positive. He challenged; he didn’t condemn.”) And Ridge highlighted how a shrinking base has allowed the likes of Sens. Alexander, Mitch McConnell, Marco Rubio, Orrin Hatch, John McCain, and Lindsey Graham to have their conservatism questioned.
“For many observers, the GOP has become intolerant, judgmental, and self-righteous – perhaps worthy of attitudes of the Pilgrims in 1620, but hardly attractive qualities for a political party nearly 400 years later,” Ridge said. “Sadly, there is very little room or respect for differences of opinion on social issues.”
Strong words from a man who has run eight campaigns as a Republican. But he’s uniquely qualified to offer that view. Remember, McCain favored Ridge or Joe Lieberman as his vice presidential pick in 2008, avoiding the former because he is pro-choice.