Monday, May 25, 2009

An Open Letter to Colin Powell

Editor's note: Hopefully Mr. Powell will listen to this.

Dear Mr. Powell,

You probably have not been getting a whole lot of emails from Republicans thanking you for your words as of late, but I want to be one of the few Republicans that says thanks. I am glad that you are staying in the GOP and telling those who want to make lists of who is in and who is out to stop being so exclusive and narrow-minded.

You are one of the reasons I became a Republican. It's hard to find many African Americans who are Republicans, and here you were, an example of a black man that worked hard, and served his country in so many different ways. I knew that if someone like you could call yourself a Republican, than I knew I could.

That said, I do have some concerns with your recent statements. It's not that I don't appreciate them- I do. But I feel that those of us that want a more inclusive GOP have to do more than talk about it on blogs or Sunday Morning talk shows. We have to actually get involved in trying to change the party.

I think Bruce Bartlett puts it best when he states the following:

..if Powell is going to make a point of staying in a party that doesn’t particularly want him—former Vice President Dick Cheney has more or less told him to leave—then Powell has a responsibility to do more than give the occasional television interview criticizing the GOP’s lack of inclusiveness; he needs to engage it on a systematic basis.

Powell has to accept that he is in a unique position to command attention and lead the Republican Party—or at least that part of it that isn’t consumed with defending the indefensible on torture or living in a fantasy world where the economy would be booming today if it just wasn’t for Obama’s budget deficits. It’s a pretty small constituency these days—most of those, like me, who share Powell’s views have left his party to become independents—but it may be enough to build a foundation on that can offer a meaningful challenge to the dominant Cheney-Limbaugh-Palin wing of the Republican Party that views all efforts to expand its membership as a sell-out to be resisted at all cost, even if it means further political losses.

Those words might seem a bit harsh to hear, but I have to say that Mr. Bartlett's words carry more than a grain of truth. The fact is, people like Rush Limbaugh and Dick Cheney are deciding who gets to be in the GOP. People like you and I are thought of as Republicans in Name Only. We have to be willing to tell people why we belong in this party and take on the bullies who want us out.

But Mr. Bartlett is asking you to go beyond a few words on a Sunday morning show. Because of who you are, you carry a certain amount of weight. Your words in Boston and later on television are giving moderates a real voice. Voices are important. You are giving voice to millions of moderates both within and without the GOP who wish the party were more of a center-right party than a right-wing party.

But I think now you have to take the next step: use your voice to stir up a movement of change within the GOP.

It's important that you help revive the moderate wing in the party. In a recent blog post, I noted there needs to be a centrist GOP infrastructure ala the Democratic Leadership Council. You could use your expertise and voice to help form new groups that would make the moderate voice stronger and willing to take on the extremist elements in the GOP. You could also create strong PACs that would help elect moderate Republican candidates for office.

The fact is, you have a lot of power, Mr. Powell. I applaud you for what you are doing now, but there is a lot of work that needs to be done. We need you to be the soldier again and lead us to battle. If this party is as important to you as you say it is, then please respond to the call.

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