John Laird: Here's a perfect new leader for frustrated conservatives

By John Laird, Columbian Editorial Page Editor

Published:

 

While city officials meet in Pawnee, Ind., to discuss cost-cutting measures, a gunshot rings out and everyone flinches — except one man. Reaching for his cellphone, Ron Swanson calmly tells his petrified cohorts, "So sorry. New ringtone." He stands and begins to leave the room to take the call, then turns and pleads, "Don't cut anything without me."

Ever since I saw that episode of the TV show "Parks and Recreation," I have idolized Ron Swanson, the character played by Nick Offerman. The favorite of my T-shirts features the "Swanson Pyramid of Greatness." And since one of my goals in 2013 is to lift the Republican Party from the nasty abyss of irrelevance, I nominate Ron Swanson as the new standard-bearer for our conservative cause.

Ron Swanson is a staunch believer in less government, and as a city parks director, he believes his job is to eliminate his job. He once explained: "My idea of a perfect government is one guy who sits in a small room at a desk, and the only thing he's allowed to decide is who to nuke."

Now I ask you, how great is this guy? All proud Republicans — from grizzled veterans such as state Sen. Don Benton to brash newcomers like Clark County Commissioner David Madore — should genuflect at the feet of Ron Swanson. Here are more reasons to anoint this man as GOP guru:

Swanson clearly is ready for a higher leadership role. He even ran (supposedly) for governor of Indiana (http://www.ronswanson2012.org). And his fundraising strategy sounded strikingly familiar to that of Madore, our local tycoon whose campaign war chest was almost totally self-funded. As Swanson explained on his website: "Seriously, I couldn't give a damn whether or not you support me. … My whole premise in running is to prove that you don't need me — or anyone — telling you how to run your life. … You don't need me, so why in the world would I need you?"

Swanson especially despises all of his colleagues in mythical Pawnee's bloated bureaucracy: "This is my favorite part about having a new city manager. They always try to shake things up and their ideas are terrible and it brings city hall to a grinding halt. I just grab a few donuts, sit back and enjoy the show."

Swanson astutely espouses the Benton/Madore Doctrine. One block on his Pyramid of Greatness defines capitalism: "God's way of determining who is smart, and who is poor."

Ron can adjust his narrative depending on the audience. When a student visited his office, he mentored her with: "It's never too early to learn that the government is a greedy piglet that suckles on the taxpayers' teat until they have sore, chapped nipples." Then he turned to the camera and said, "I'm gonna need a different metaphor to give this 9-year-old."

Like each of us, Swanson is not perfect. To completely win over the GOP — lo, the party of family values — he must explain his spotty marital record. Ron has been married three times, twice to the same woman. Both ex-wives are named Tammy. Most Republicans would recoil at Swanson's advice for divorce recovery: "The key to burning an ex-wife effigy is to dip it in paraffin wax and then toss the flaming bottle of isopropyl alcohol from a safe distance. Do not stand too close when you light an ex-wife effigy."

Granted, Republicans will want Swanson to adjust his views about the private sector: "I don't want to broad brush here, but every single contractor in the world is a miserable, incompetent thief."

And he's a little rough around the edges when it comes to engaging constituents: "I'm not interested in caring about people. I once worked with a guy for three years and never learned his name. Best friend I ever had. We still never talk sometimes."

But even with his flaws, Ron is ready to become the first effective Republican leader since the Reagan presidency. More than anything, the esteemed Mr. Swanson is intense in his singular mission to eradicate government: "Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing."

So take it from me, Republicans. Let's all forget Rush, Sean and Glenn. Ron's our man!