EDITORIAL: Colin Powell a breath of fresh air from the Republican Party

If only more Republicans could be like Colin Powell.

The former Secretary of State, set to visit CMU on Jan. 24, stood up to his party's most extreme elements Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press," noting the Republican Party's "dark vein of intolerance."

"You've got to think first about what's the party actually going to represent," Powell said. "If it's just going to represent the far right wing of the political spectrum, I think the party is in difficulty."

It's encouraging to see a well-respected Republican acknowledge the party's rightward drift over the past four years. The GOP, whether it wants to admit it or not, has been taken over by far-right forces that see compromise as weakness and often can't see past President Barack Obama's race.

That's not to say, of course, that all Republicans are intolerant ideologues. In fact, most mainstream Republicans, as with most Americans, find themselves very open to compromise and don't consider race a factor in their politics. The problem is that the GOP no longer represents them.

It's now the party of people like Sarah Palin and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., both of whom have made racially insensitive comments and find compromising with Obama and the Democratic Party a cardinal sin.

We often hear about the gridlock that has paralyzed Washington and has nearly imperiled economic recovery multiple times now. Much of the blame falls on the GOP for failing to stand up to its fringe elements and remain the center-right party it used to be.

But now is an opportunity for the Republican Party to reorganize and rebrand itself. And listening to those who have been around for a while, having been part of one of the most criticized and unpopular presidential administrations in the last two decades, would be a good start.

Some might consider Powell a career politician, or someone ingrained in the Beltway way of life, but his words and his tone are a breath of fresh air for those tired of the same mudslinging, name calling, polarized way things have become in the political sphere.