Jack Kemp: A “Big Tent” Conservative Dies

Former Congressman Jack Kemp of Buffalo, New York, who also was the Vice Presidential running mate of Senator Bob Dole in 1996 and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Bush,  passed away over the weekend, still a vital, active figure until a few months ago.

While I did not agree with his viewpoint on taxation, which had a great effect on Reaganomics in the 1980s,  I came to respect the fact that here was a conservative who believed in making the GOP a "big tent",  including trying to draw minorities into the party.  He worked very hard to broaden the base of the Republican party and to humanize its image.  He was in his own fashion the "Happy Warrior" of the GOP, very warm and friendly with all who he met, and his death at the fairly early age of 73, still looking very young until recently,  when he contracted cancer, is a major loss to a party which needs desperately to follow his lead and make the Republicans a party that the young, suburban, women, and minorities could find appealing for the future.

Until the Republicans really reform their party to become one of emphasizing the kinds of ideas  and appeals that Jack Kemp spent years cultivating,  they will not be a major opposition to the rejuvenated Democratic party under Barack Obama.

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