There is no alternative to seeking to expand the conservative base beyond its present inadequate numbers and to win the votes of people who aren’t yet conservatives or are not yet conservatives on all issues. The defunders often said that those who predicted their failure were “defeatists.” Yet it is they who have given in to despair. They are the ones who entertain the ideas that…engagement in politics as traditionally conceived is hopeless; that government programs, once begun, must corrupt the citizenry so that they can never be ended or reformed; that the country will soon be past the point of regeneration, if it is not there already.
On the one hand, it’s healthy that at least some conservative insiders are trying to think these issues out; both parties, and the country at large, stand to benefit from a stronger, more innovative, and more tactically sophisticated GOP.On the other hand, the biggest problem on the right at the moment is the disconnect between its thinkers and its politicians—a “brain-body gap.” None of the smart new ideas from the thinkers ever seem to filter down to the doers.Would-be reformers looking to see how innovative center-right policy ideas can make it into official party platforms should look to Australia: the story of Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s generous parental leave program is a good example of how the process should work.Within our own borders, there have been some encouraging signs lately of GOP politicians floating new ideas or shifting rhetorical gears in the ways the party’s thinkers have long advocated. What remains to be seen is whether anything will come of it—and whether post-blue model thinking will follow a similar pattern on the left.[Image of GOP elephant from Shutterstock]