I watched the Republican primary race with interest over the last few weeks. I am very disappointed with the nominees, their performance and their platforms. They are bland and have little chance of engaging the hearts and minds of the electorate. After carefully reviewing their platforms, I believe that they do not have a real vision for America. Rather, they are running on a "defeat Obama" platform. The candidates seem like a bunch of kids in the schoolyard lining up to be divided into teams. They scream "pick me, pick me" but they have nothing of value to add to the team. In my opinion they will not be able to win in November given their lackluster personalities and weak campaigns.

If I were running for president, I would base my campaign on three of the issues that are facing our nation. These are the economy, employment, and energy. These issues are intertwined to the extent that progress on one of the three will have a mushroom effect on the other two. As employment increases, the economy will improve. As more energy is developed in America there will be more jobs, and a better economy. I believe the secret to the American recovery starts with energy.

We currently import approximately 8.6 million barrels of oil a day at a cost of over $900 million per day. Forty percent of our oil is imported from the Middle East. While I am very concerned about the effect of imported oil on our balance of trade, I am more concerned that dependence on Arabic oil could lead to sudden shortages. As we saw earlier this week, just the thought that Israel may bomb a nuclear reactor in Iran sent oil prices up over $15 a barrel. There are also concerns that Iran could block the Straights of Hermoz to prevent all oil shipments to the United States from the Middle East. We can no longer permit a few crazy ayatollahs to hold our country and our economy hostage. It is time for us to put energy independence on the fast track.

We have plenty of energy in the Marcellus shale here in Pennsylvania and an abundance of energy in the Bakken fields of Montana. We also have massive amounts of oil in Alaska and in both shallow and deep water off our coasts. The state and federal governments need to cut the red tape and open these fields for rapid development now. We must end our dependence on Middle Eastern and South American oil if we are to be in control of our economy.

Already thousands of jobs have been created in the oil fields of Montana. Here in Pennsylvania we are starting to hire in the Marcellus shale fields and there are many more jobs on the horizon as development expands. People who work in the oil fields need places to live, food to eat, entertainment, and a plethora of other products that support a variety of businesses. In time, the communities around these fields will develop into thriving towns. I'm tired of seeing vacant stores when I drive to the market. These stores used to be prosperous businesses. It is time to turn this economy around. Energy is the key to our recovery.

As we become more self-sufficient in energy, more jobs will be created throughout the business sector. Unemployment will decrease as it has in North Dakota. Thanks to the energy boom there, the unemployment rate is 3.2 percent. Employers are trolling the surrounding states looking for new workers and offering incentives for them to relocate to North Dakota. As employment increases, the state reaps additional taxation while the declining jobless rate results in decreased unemployment insurance payouts. While the rest of the country may be slowly easing out of recession, North Dakota is booming.

As for the economy, we are currently sending over $900 million a day overseas to countries that do not like us. Energy self-sufficiency is the secret to our economic recovery. We need to stop the flow of our dollars overseas while encouraging corporations to repatriate their foreign profits. These two measures will both decrease our unfavorable balance of trade and increase investments in factories and infrastructure here in the United States. This in turn will create jobs and the economic growth that we so desperately need.

As you can see, I have laid out a platform that I believe will appeal to the American people. Our Republican candidates need to reinvent the "Blueprint For American Prosperity" if they want to be elected. Then they must champion the cause of job creation, energy independence, and economic freedom. I am hoping that in the process of developing this platform, one of the existing candidates or an entirely new candidate will be energized and develop the charisma needed to win in November.

For some reason, the American electorate loves a charismatic leader. John F. Kennedy, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were charismatic and they cleaned up in the polls. The voters love them! For the Republicans to win, they need to energize the candidates. Mitt Romney is boring, with a deadpan face. Rick Santorum just can't seem to get enough momentum. Gingrich failed in the last election and is not electable. Ron Paul is fired up however many Republicans do not have the courage to vote for him given his platform.

This is likely the last chance the Republican Party has to reinvent itself. For years, Republicans have moved closer to the Democrats until it is very difficult to differentiate between them. If this party does not move to the right to support critical conservative issues, including those mentioned in this article, then support will erode and create a political vacuum. The Libertarians will pick up the ultraconservatives and many middle-of-the-road Republicans. Unfortunately, this will split the vote and ensure a stunning victory for President Obama in the November elections. President Obama does not need to divide the Republican Party; they are doing it to themselves.

On a different topic, I ask you to keep Youcef Nadarkhani in your thoughts and prayers. Mr. Nadarkhani was sentenced to beheading on Tuesday for converting from Islam to Christianity. As I write this article, it is not known when he would be executed. Iran is a dangerous and ruthless dictatorship that massacres its own citizens because they are Christian. This once prosperous and benevolent country changed forever when the Shah was overthrown and the religious leaders under Ayatollah Khomeini took control. Since the revolution in 1979, Iran repressed freedoms and enslaved the Iranian people. Mr. Nadarkhani's only crime is standing up for his faith. His Iranian oppressors offered him the opportunity to recant his Christianity three times, as required by Islamic law. Instead, Mr. Nadarkhani chose to die a Christian, rather than live as a Muslim. (http://www.foxnews.com/world/2012/02/22/iran-court-convicts-christian-pa...)

© 2012 Gordon Smith - All Rights Reserved