Patterico's Pontifications

11/11/2008

Where Should the Republican Party Go Now?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:54 pm

David Brooks:

It’s only been a week since the defeat, but the battle lines have already been drawn in the fight over the future of conservatism.

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.

Cutting government, cutting taxes, and restricting immigration (at least illegal immigration) sound good to me.

And by the way: “rally behind Sarah Palin” is not a “core idea” of the Republican Party, David. It’s true that most Traditionalists have rallied behind her, and she may well be a Traditionalist candidate in some future race. But however much Traditionalists might like her, let’s not load the dice by suggesting that supporting her is a “core” Republican idea.

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.

I don’t think the future of the Republican party is to be Democrat Lite.

While I disagree with the Traditionalists on some issues — gay marriage, the environment, animal rights, and the like — I tend to fall into what Brooks calls the Traditionalist camp on the major issues.

I still think people believe in cutting taxes and limiting government. They just want a party that is actually going to do it.

Brooks says that Reformers argue that “American voters will not support a party whose main idea is slashing government.” I’m not so sure that the spirit of rugged individualism is dead in this country, and that people are willing to chuck the idea of limited government over the side. I just think voters don’t trust Republicans to actually carry out their stated principles.

My main concern is the changing demographics of the country, which I talked about in this post. We have lost control of our borders, and if the Republican party has truly lost the Latino vote by championing tight control of the border, this election result may signal a permanent retrenchment. Yet I can’t see dealing with that problem by declaring the borders open. This may be the biggest practical problem facing the party.

I still think that there is a strong element of conservatism in this country; people went to the polls and voted against gay marriage (which I support) and for Obama (whom I oppose). There is still a belief in conservative principles, but we lack a leader to stand up for them.

We need a leader who won’t cave to the elites or to the religious fanatics, but who will stand up for genuine American principles in a smart and different way. Someone who presents like Obama, but who believes the opposite of everything Obama believes.

I just think we have to find the right figure to articulate our principles, and be smarter about how we do it. And we have to convince the country that we are willing to actually put these principles into action.

The future of the Republican party does not lie in abandoning our principles, but in finally standing up for them.

Ed Morrissey: Let’s Not Act Like the Unhinged Left

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:54 am

At Hot Air, Ed Morrissey quotes a Jake Tapper post that says:

Rep. Paul Broun, R-Georgia, recently said that he fears President-elect Obama may create a security force akin to the Gestapo to impose a Marxist dictatorship.

Ed considers the evidence and finds it lacking, and responds:

If we plan to offer a rational alternative to the coming debacle of the next two years, then we’d better stick to facts and eschew hyperbole. We need to oppose the reality of the radical agenda proposed by Obama and the Democratic majorities in Congress, not fantasies spun out of context-free snippets of speeches. The more critics invoke Hitler and Stalin instead of Jimmy Carter and Lyndon Johnson, the better the reality of Obama, Reid, and Pelosi will seem in 2010.

Stick to facts? Eschew hyperbole? Oppose reality and not fantasy? Don’t compare Obama to Hitler and Stalin?

It’s all far too much for OUTLAW Jeff Goldstein, who mocks Morrissey in a post titled Ed Morrissey: Calm Down and Play Nice, ODS sufferers:

Don’t act like Democrats did. Republicans, why, they have more class.

– Oh. And a few million less presidential votes, fewer House and Senate seats, and, soon, a diminished role in the judiciary.

But still, they have more class!

It’s an utter mystery to me why Ed’s sensible post would spur such a bitter reaction from Goldstein. Morrissey does not use the word “class” or say “play nice” anywhere in his post. He’s just saying we shouldn’t act like the mirror image of the unhinged left.

And we shouldn’t. It’s wrong, and it doesn’t help anything.

P.S. In the meantime, there is a real philosophical battle for the soul of the Republican Party going on. Perhaps we could shelve the debate about whether Obama is Hitler or Stalin and figure out where we stand on that issue.

P.P.S. Jeff has added an update that links three comments that, he says, explain why he reacted to Ed’s post the way he did. To me, they seem like they’re a reaction to something other than what Ed actually said. But read it yourself and make up your own mind.

P.P.P.S. Also, he has re-written his post since I originally quoted it above.

Obama and Change: Lobbyists Are Back In (Updated with Obama’s Final Policy)

Filed under: Government — DRJ @ 11:41 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

Now that he’s President-elect and filling the rosters of his Administration, Obama has backed off his promise to exclude lobbyists from government and lobbyists are back in:

“Despite campaign trail promises that special interests wouldn’t be a part of his administration, President-elect Barack Obama’s has sent signals to the lobbyists that they can get jobs with him.

The Obama policy, which appears to be evolving, would prevent lobbyists from taking administration jobs in the same areas they had advocated for in their private practices.

And, once leaving the administration, they would face a longer “cooling off” periods during which they could not lobby their former administrative colleagues.

But the overall message to the lobbying community appears to run counter to the Democratic senator’s campaign promise to keep special interest advocates at arms length.”

Obama was also inconsistent regarding lobbyists during his campaign. Not only did he vastly overstate the extent to which McCain was tied to lobbyists but he also claimed that he would not take lobbyist contributions when he did (see here and here). And despite claims to the contrary, he also worked with lobbyists to promote clients’ interests as a Senator.

I’ve decided Obama embraces a nuanced version of truth. There are the simple truths he tells the public that are often followed by changes that undermine those truths, changes he adds over time. People accept the changes because they are spoon-fed in small bites, but at some point they will realize they’ve been promised steak but are eating tofu.

UPDATE: Right on cue, John Podesta announces Obama’s updated lobbyist rules — No lobbying on the transition team:

“According to John Podesta, a top transition aide, federal lobbyists will be prohibited from any lobbying while they are at work on the transition.

Also, if anyone involved in the transition later becomes a lobbyist, they would not be able to lobby the new administration for one year on matters on which they worked for the president-elect.

The rules also stipulate that federal lobbyists may not contribute financially to the transition.”

– DRJ


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