Lewis Diuguid

GOP can only wish today for Bob Dole’s steady hand

One could only hope the ranks of the Republican Party would look a lot different today if the GOP were the same as it was in Bob Dole’s heyday in the Senate. Instead the party took a hard right turn back in the Reagan era.

People are prone to ponder “what ifs” now that Dole is celebrating his 90th birthday this week. The former Republican senator from Kansas served from 1969 until 1996 when he resigned to run for president against incumbent Bill Clinton.

The Republican Party under President Ronald Reagan lost its direction when it took on too many Dixiecrats from the South. The GOP became even more inflexible under House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

When Dole left the senate, the Republican Party lost its rudder, veering hard to the right and into the rocks of political irrelevancy for the changing demographics of America. The party is trying to rebuild now as the 2014 elections rapidly approach.

Republicans are trying to broaden their thinking on immigration, gay marriage, education, urban development and race relations.

The question is will it be enough and in time to patch up the party or just window dressing to win votes.