Where does the Red go from here?

By Remy Soni

The campaigns are over. The people have spoken. The new president of the United States has been sworn into office. Democrats control the White House and Congress, and Americans everywhere carry the hope of change and progress promoted by President Obama.

The country’s sharp change of direction makes everyone wonder what the next four years will be like, especially with the war in Iraq, the economy, health care, global warming and other issues. As a self-described moderate, I see the positives and negatives of both parties and feel I have a good understanding of the values and ideas that drive them, and in this case particularly, the Republican Party.

In the grand scheme of things, four years goes by pretty fast, and one must wonder: Where do the Republicans go from here? Professors, strategists and Republican politicians are throwing out their ideas about how they can win again, but at the end of the day, the American people make the decision and can swing the election for the GOP if the conditions are right.

Republicans need to re-examine themselves as a party and figure out exactly what type of image they want to portray to America. Among Republicans, there seems to be a divide between the conservatives and moderates. Many conservatives talk about how the Republican Party has become too moderate over the past few years, and the reason they lost this past election was because they lacked the conservative values that serve as a foundation for the party.

This is certainly debatable, especially given the fact that center is better. Obama, although having many liberal views, is filling his team with people from both sides and has constantly preached unity, throughout his campaign and inauguration. The GOP needs to do what the Democrats did right this past election and deliver a strong moderate message through their conservative candidate. It is important for the American people to see Republicans, such as John McCain, willing to work with both sides of the aisle and not be afraid to stand up to his own party if necessary.

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You may ask, well what was the problem with McCain then? “Election John McCain,” as I like to call him, didn’t seem to deliver the same results as he has in the past. He initially failed with many conservatives because there was talk of his more moderate approach to politics, and as a result, many, including extremists like Ann Coulter, stood by candidates, like Romney and Huckabee.

His campaign team should have recommended to him to bring in a strong conservative candidate that he would have needed for the win, but instead, they brought in Sarah Palin. A first-term governor of Alaska whose foreign policy credentials are below par and whose numerous negative controversies raised her to celebrity status was not what the Republican Party needed. Her inexperience, McCain’s disconnect with his party and younger voters and the connection between Bush and the GOP did not help their cause.

So who do the Republicans need to revitalize the party? Two words: Bobby Jindal. The current governor of Louisiana’s name was initially thrown around as a potential VP candidate.

However, his commitment to his state was more important. Jindal encompasses many qualities that would be attractive as a Republican presidential candidate: He’s conservative, Christian, young, Indian-American, Ivy-educated and very well-spoken. He is solidly conservative in his views and can help GOP members rediscover and get excited about their political roots.

The Republicans have been criticized a great deal over the years because of their party being labeled as old white men, and Jindal would help to show Americans that the Republicans can transcend race and age.

Many voters were impressed with Obama’s ability to speak well and think about both sides of the issues when it came to debates and town visits. Jindal is very well-spoken and would be a big turnaround from the bumbling and stumbling George W. Bush. Personally, I disagree with Jindal on a lot of issues, but I have no doubt that he would be the conservative Republican’s answer to Barack Obama.

The GOP should wait until 2016 to put up Jindal though, knowing that he will have had two terms as governor by then, and assuming that Obama does a good job, they would not have to deal with Jindal’s loss to the incumbent president. By 2016, the country will be ready for another change, and if the Republicans play their cards right, they could be the ones in charge once again.

Remy is a junior in communication and English and is ready for Illinois to replace Texas as the best state in the Union.