November 11, 2008

TRIVIAL PURSUITS:

Darkness at Dusk (DAVID BROOKS, 11/11/08, NY Times)

In one camp, there are the Traditionalists, the people who believe that conservatives have lost elections because they have strayed from the true creed. George W. Bush was a big-government type who betrayed conservatism. John McCain was a Republican moderate, and his defeat discredits the moderate wing.

To regain power, the Traditionalists argue, the G.O.P. should return to its core ideas: Cut government, cut taxes, restrict immigration. Rally behind Sarah Palin*. [...]

The other camp, the Reformers, argue that the old G.O.P. priorities were fine for the 1970s but need to be modernized for new conditions. The reformers tend to believe that American voters will not support a party whose main idea is slashing government. The Reformers propose new policies to address inequality and middle-class economic anxiety. They tend to take global warming seriously. They tend to be intrigued by the way David Cameron has modernized the British Conservative Party.

Moreover, the Reformers say, conservatives need to pay attention to the way the country has changed. Conservatives have to appeal more to Hispanics, independents and younger voters. They cannot continue to insult the sensibilities of the educated class and the entire East and West Coasts.


That sort of scrap between the Paleocon Right and the Bright Right probably does fascinate the participants, but it has almost nothing to do with the future of the GOP. With Maverick cleared out of the way the 2012 nomination--and, therefore, the definition of conservatism--is a contest among clones of W: Jeb Bush, Sarah Palin, Bobby Jindal, Mitch Daniels, etc., with Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney hanging around. It is the W template that matters: deeply religious, Third Way, Southern governor, with a business background, appeal to not just the Anglo religious but Hispanic/black/Asian too.

The future of the GOP is neither nativist nor secularist.


* Ms Palin is far too pro-immigration and interventionist to be tolerable to the far Right. Check out the primary reason she gives for the loss:

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Posted by Orrin Judd at November 11, 2008 11:37 AM
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