“We try to legislate what goes on inside a home way too much,” he says. “We need consistency and we’ve not traditionally done that.”

In Tennessee, another lawmaker with star potential has also devoted a great deal of brainpower to rehabilitating the GOP playbook.

State Sen. Mark Green’s resume reads like a casting call for politics. A former Army Ranger and special operations flight surgeon who interviewed Saddam Hussein on the night of his capture in Iraq, the U.S. Military Academy graduate also started his own emergency room management company where he remains CEO to this day.

Green, 49, dislodged a Democratic incumbent in an evenly divided Clarksville, Tennessee, district in 2012, almost immediately darting onto the statewide radar for 2014. Not even a year into his term, he was courted by leaders of Washington-based conservative groups, which dangled the promise of millions of dollars to prop up a challenge to Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.

 Ultimately, perhaps heeding advice from GOPAC leaders, he didn’t jump.“I just decided, it wasn’t my time,” he says.

GOP recruiters are convinced Green’s time will come. But in the meantime, he’s been thinking about how Republicans can more effectively speak to lower-income and working-class folks about their economic hardships.

“The problem is we’re not connecting with people on their level,” he says. “We’ve got to stop talking about cutting taxes, reducing the size of government. That’s the means to the end. We’ve got to talk about the end. These people who have been left behind, they don’t want to hear, cut taxes or cut the size of government. What they want to hear is, is, ‘I could own my own restaurant some day.’ And they can.”

Too often, Republicans are eager to be cheerleaders, Green believes, without fully understanding the unique circumstances of the economically disadvantaged and how difficult it is to break out of a cycle of financial despair.

“There’s guys like myself that are self-made and we’re on the sidelines saying, ‘Come on, you can do it.’ We’re cheerleaders,” he says. “That’s not enough if you are raised to a crack addicted parent and thrown in the corner to raise yourself. That kid doesn’t believe in himself, he doesn’t believe in the country, he doesn’t believe in the system.”

In a nod to the social media age, Green took a small step in his first term by initiating a Facebook page that allows jobless Tennesseans to post their resumes on. But he’s candid when he acknowledges he hasn’t quite settled on a more tangible solution.

“I don’t know the answer yet, but I’m feverishly trying to figure it out,” he says… READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.

Follow Sen. Mark Green, MD on FACEBOOK & TWITTER.

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