Hey, GOP -- Don't Just Listen...LEAD!

By Andrea TantarosRepublican Political Commentator/FOXNews.com Contributor

A few Republican familiar faces embarked on a listening tour over the weekend. Former presidential candidate Mitt Romney, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and House Minority Whip Eric Cantor held a town-hall style meeting at a restaurant in Virginia -- kicking off the first meeting of the GOP group National Council for a New America which was created to rebrand the party's image.

While this sounds nice, a listening tour is by definition a leadership vacuum. The GOP didn't lose in wide margins this past election because we didn't listen. We lost because we failed to lead. We acted like Democrats: borrowing and spending, and ultimately abandoning our core principles---fiscal discipline being first and foremost. And we heard the disgust of the voters on November 3.



The good news is Democrats were declared wounded and in critical condition after the 2004 election cycle and came back only four years later (arguably the shift began with the 2006 midterms). The GOP has rebounded before. The Reagan revolution revitalized Republicans almost a decade after Nixon.

The bad news is that the right is lost and lifeless because we failed to communicate a vision and plan to make it happen; this challenge still lingers. The party suffered from message constipation, used an outdated playbook and the regurgitated talking points of the last 8 years. Democrats, though misguided, at least appeared to have noble goals: Everyone deserves a home -- even if they can't afford it! We'll make decisions for you and your family! Free health care for everyone!

"Gimmie my damn tax cut" while inspiring and intellectually honest, isn't the foundation upon which we should build our comeback. Tax cuts are a tactic,not an overarching theme. The benefits of a smaller government are an inspiring narrative but were tough to articulate in 2008 because of our behavior.

Now the Obama administration is making it their mission to desperately butt into the lives of individuals while simultaneously causing damage to the long-term economic health of our nation. The Republican Party should be able to coalesce around a cogent rebuttal but we haven't a leader to line up behind. The Bush brand is what handed the government over to the opposition. Translation: Jeb Bush is not our messenger. No Bush is, or any old hand from his payroll.

Ten years ago, Barack Obama wasn't a national figure. The next leader of the party has yet to emerge. Until then the tired faces of the party's past will not do. We need a fresh figure that embraces our core conservative principles but also maintains a big tent mentality. One who focuses on the next generation - my generation - and like Reagan can motivate by reason and persuade through emotion. One who recognizes that what unites us is much greater than what divides us.

The party will re-emerge stronger, more viable and pronounced as a force. It's just a matter of time. But we must be willing to give the party the purging it so desperately deserves. We hear the concerns of the country loud and clear. It's time to lead, not listen.

Andrea Tantaros is a conservative commentator, columnist and FOXNews.com contributor. Her commentary can be found at www.andreatantaros.com.