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It is time to reinvent ourselves

Posted: November 6, 2008 3:59 p.m.
Updated: November 7, 2008 4:59 a.m.
Ryan Leaf was one of the most highly rated college quarterbacks in history. Along with his contemporary, Peyton Manning, Leaf was heralded as a sure-fire hit in the NFL: the stuff of legends.

As it turned out, both Manning and Leaf were legendary but for different reasons.

Manning turned out to be one of the best NFL quarterbacks of all time. He led the Colts to a Super Bowl championship two years ago and has presided over one of the best and most stable winning teams in recent years.

Leaf is now a legend because of his abject failure in the NFL. In one game alone, he went 11 for 26, was picked twice and threw a pass that hit his center in the thigh.

An NFL washout, he became a quarterback coach at West Texas A&M. Recently it was disclosed that Leaf had asked one of his players for a painkiller.

He was placed on leave from his position, and it is very likely that he will not be returning.

Just another sad chapter in the story of Ryan Leaf, a young man of amazing potential but unfilled promises and dreams.

The plight of the Republican Party mirrors Leaf's story. Strong leadership and potential that went astray has allowed a donnybrook of epic proportions to happen - a Democratic president and a Congress fully in the grasp of the left.

In 1994, Newt Gingrich and the congressional freshman class went to Washington with a vision and a hope - to change American government for the better and to make it more responsive to the people. Republican ideas fit with America and America looked to Republicans for hope.

Along the way, something was lost. The ideas that put us in charge were forgotten in exchange for the concerns over staying in office and preserving power. We were seduced by Washington and lost our way.

Now we must rediscover our way and find new leadership to move into the future. As Obama's recent election shows, America wants new ideas and new fresh optimism.

We need fresh leadership. People like Adam Putnam from Florida's 12th Congressional District, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal or Virginia's Eric Cantor.

We need to find the right balance of charisma and substance with moral fiber and vision. It's a tall order, but the farm system has the talent. We just need to develop it.

We also need fresh ideas. We cannot keep chanting the same mantras repeatedly - people stop listening.

We are in a war of ideas and we must win the hearts of Americans back with better thinking and better marketing. Here are a few that may spark the interest of our nation.

Let's stop giving aid money to countries that hate us.

Let's stop financing the greatest platform for anti-American sentiment in the world, the United Nations.

Let's fix this ridiculous tax system that rewards slackers and punishes hard-working folks.
Americans need to feel that they can trust their leaders. We've lost the moral and ethical high ground.

We are plagued by guys like Larry Craig who threaten police officers after getting busted for soliciting gay sex in a bathroom, convicted felon Ted Stevens from Alaska and the "bridge to nowhere," and Tom DeLay who was implicated in the Jack Abramoff influence-peddling scandal (among other things).

We need a new fast-track system for suspending or expelling bad people from our government. Due process must be served, but we must have a better and faster mechanism for turning out dishonorable and dishonest government officials.

We need a line-item veto for the president. This will stop pork-barrel politics and take some of the money out of decision making.

And, although it will upset members of my party, we need to steal a page from the Democrats' playbook and support clean money. We can't have the specter of shady campaign finance hanging over us anymore.
This must be settled once and for all.

On the state level, let's stop this crazy proposition system. This is not a democracy. It's a republic. We elect people to make these decisions for us.

Our elected officials should study the issues, get input from all sides, then make a wise and calculated decision. Submitting important questions to a generally uninformed electorate is a recipe for disaster.

Let's be honest - most of the people who vote for propositions just listen to the media, read the props for the first time in the voting booth, and ink-a-dot. That is no way to spend billions of dollars.

One more idea. Let's put a limit on total tax liability. For example, let's say that the state can take no more than 3 percent of our total income from all sources. How they spend that 3 percent is up to them, but they cannot go above that limit for any reason. That would stop the continuous wrangling and fighting in Sacramento.

Here is another. How about a limit on bond issuance? Let's tell Sacramento that we cannot have more than $200 billion in bond debt to service. So, if someone wants $10 billion to build a pointless high-speed train system, then there has to be room under the spending cap. No room, no prop, no discussion.

Someone recently said that "hiring Ryan Leaf to be a quarterback coach is like asking O.J. Simpson to be a marriage counselor."

Or having Democrats run the nation.

We Republicans must re-invent ourselves in the next four years with new ideas and leadership. Our nation is counting on us.

Steve Lunetta is a Santa Clarita resident. His column reflects his own views, not necessarily those of The Signal. "Right About Now" runs Fridays in The Signal and rotates among local Republican writers.


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