Sen. Lindsey Graham demonstrated recently what soulful leadership looks like in the Republican Party. Republicans have been in danger recently of losing their party's soul. With talk-show hosts playing on the fears of the fringes, Republicans are running the risk of becoming the party that tears down, rather than a party that offers constructive solutions growing out of their deeply-held values.
The talk-show mania wouldn't undermine the party's soul if more Republican leaders would distance themselves from it. Unfortunately, too few have. Sen. Graham broke with this trend when, in an interview at the First Draft of History forum at Washington's Newseum, he had the courage to call the Republican Party back to its core values, naming the fringe elements for what they are.
Graham called Republicans to police their own party. He called conspiracy theories "crazy": "I'm here to tell you that those who think the president was born somewhere other than Hawaii are crazy. He's not a Muslim."
Commenting on talk-show hosts, Graham opined, "Glenn Beck is not aligned with any party as far as I can tell. He's aligned with cynicism, and there's always been a market for cynicism. But we became a great nation not because we are a nation of cynics. We became a great nation because we are a nation of believers."
Sen. Graham views himself as President Obama's loyal opposition. "Do I want some of his policies to fail? You better believe it. Do I want him to fail? No, because he's my president."
While it's tempting for liberals to rejoice in the Republican Party's current disarray, such rejoicing is shortsighted. This country needs the core values traditionally upheld by the Republican Party, as well as the core values traditionally upheld by the Democratic Party. National debates require the best that both parties have to offer, so that decisions can be based on intelligent, thoughtful arguments from both perspectives.
At this time when the U.S. faces so many challenges, may more Republicans follow the lead of Sen. Graham and call their party to be its best self. Restoring the soul of the Republican Party will ultimately strengthen America's soul.
Margaret Benefiel, PhD, author of Soul at Work and The Soul of a Leader works with leaders in health care, business, churches, government, and non-profits to help them stay true to their souls. Visit her Web site.