Ridge seeks respectful Republicans

RIDGE SEEKS RESPECTFUL REPUBLICANS…. Former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge (R), who was considered for the Republicans’ presidential ticket last year and was recruited to run for the Senate next year, believes the GOP has become a regional party. Appearing on CNN, Ridge offered a suggestion to help get the party back on track.

Former Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge says the Republican Party needs to be much less judgmental about disagreements within the party — and far more judgmental about disagreements with Democrats.

Ridge — a former Pennsylvania governor — also says conservative radio commentator Rush Limbaugh conveys his point of view in ways that offend many people.

Ridge says Republicans should respect other people’s opinions and not attack individuals — only their ideas. He says it’s important to explain in what he calls “a rational, thoughtful, responsible and reasonable way” why Republican ideas should be more acceptable to the average American.

This sounds about half-right. Ridge’s advice about a party that conducts itself in a more responsible fashion is a helpful suggestion. The GOP gave up on sensible politics quite a while ago, and acting like grown-ups for a change might help the American mainstream give Republicans another look.

But even if the party took on a more respectful, adult-like tone, the GOP is still suffering from some fundamental flaws. The party’s ideas, for example, don’t work. Given a chance to govern, the party produced a series of disasters. Even if Republican officials were to become more rational — a move that appears nowhere on the horizon — it wouldn’t address the fact that the party doesn’t take policy matters seriously, and has precious little to offer in terms of solutions to pressing issues (their proposed solutions to the economic crisis included a five-year spending freeze and a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution, for example).

Tactically, Ridge’s point is well taken, and the GOP would be well served by a new approach to politics. It would, at a minimum, be a step in the right direction. But given the systemic problems holding the party back, it’s not even close to being enough.