[Posted by Karl]
According to the Washington Times, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said Saturday that it’s time for the Republican Party to give up its “nostalgia” for the heyday of the Reagan era and look forward, even if it means stealing the winning strategy deployed by Democrats in the 2008 election.
Funny, Democrats never seem to tire of evoking nostalgia for FDR and LBJ.
Jeb and the rest of the newly-formed National Council for a New America want “to begin a conversation with the American people” and explain Republican principles to anyone who will listen.
Unfortunately, Jeb — and most of those associated with the new group — lack the two most important factors in making a persuasive argument. In particular, having helped lead the GOP to its current state of disrepair, most of them lack credibility. As Sen. Jim DeMint noted over the weekend:
No Child Left Behind didn’t win us “soccer moms,” but it did cost us our credibility on locally controlled education. Medicare prescription drugs didn’t win us a “permanent majority,” but it cost us our credibility on entitlement reform. Every year, another Republican quality was tainted: managerial competence, fiscal discipline and personal ethics.
Sen. DeMint also has a pretty decent idea as to where the GOP should be headed:
Republicans can welcome a vigorous debate about legalized abortion or same-sex marriage; but we should be able to agree that social policies should be set through a democratic process, not by unelected judges. Our party benefits from national-security debates; but Republicans can start from the premise that the U.S. is an exceptional nation and force for good in history. We can argue about how to rein in the federal Leviathan; but we should agree that centralized government infringes on individual liberty and that problems are best solved by the people or the government closest to them.
Moderate and liberal Republicans who think a South Carolina conservative like me has too much influence are right! I don’t want to make decisions for them. That’s why I’m working to reduce Washington’s grip on our lives and devolve power to the states, communities and individuals, so that Northeastern Republicans, Western Republicans, Southern Republicans, and Midwestern Republicans can define their own brands of Republicanism. It’s the Democrats who want to impose a rigid, uniform agenda on all Americans.
It is an approach more consistent with Reagan Republicanism than Bush Republicanism of ther “kinder and gentler” or “compasssionate” variety.
People like Jeb Bush need to hear that. They also need to hear that the Democrats’ winning strategy in 2008 was the same as their strategy in 2006 — capitalize on the political and ideological exhaustion of their opponents. They further need to hear that America literally cannot afford to wait for the Democrats to exhaust their political and ideological capital. Most of all, they need to hear that holding town halls in pizza parlors is no substitute for actually reforming the party.