Archive for July 6, 2014

Since November 4, 2008, the Republican party and the conservative movement have been dominated by exactly one thought: Opposition to anything President Obama proposes or does. But Jonathan Chait writes at the New Yorker about the glimmers of hope that conservatives are finally shedding their apocalyptic stance that America is being destroyed by President Obama, and instead have begun thinking about actually governing again. He describes the apocalyptic view that has dominated conservative politics thusly:

Glenn Beck’s moment of maximum influence already passed several years ago. But Beck was merely the most comic incarnation of a pervasive Republican alarm. The unhinged versions of this sensibility held that Obama had launched a sinister ideological assault on the Constitution and American freedom, perhaps in the name of Islamism, or socialism, or, somehow, both. The hinged version tended to fasten onto touchstones like Greece, hyperinflation, and looming fiscal catastrophe. The whole Republican worldview has been a series of furious scrawlings on mental chalkboards.

Chait writes hopefully about a recent speech by Marco Rubio, and cites a lengthy article in the New York Times Magazine by Sam Tanenhaus, entitled “Can the G.O.P. Be a Party of Ideas?” The article, which is worth a read, describes the efforts of Yuval Levin and others–dubbed reformicons–“who believe the health of the G.O.P. hinges on jettisoning its age-old doctrine — orgiastic tax-cutting, the slashing of government programs, the championing of Wall Street — and using an altogether different vocabulary, backed by specific proposals, that will reconnect the party to middle-class and low-income voters.”

Reconnect the Republican party with middle-class and low-income voters? Imagine that. That’s been heretical thinking among the right for quite a while now, if for no other reason than President Obama is seen as a supporter of such voters.

Tanenhaus describes two others in the reformicon movement, the married couple Ramish and April Ponnuru. Regarding April, Tanenhaus writes:

She, too, talked at length about how the party was out of touch. “The biggest problem is that the politicians don’t represent the people. We’re identified with the rich and big business,” she said, ticking off a list of constituencies that Republicans have alienated: “Single women, Hispanics, young people.” Also as a wife and mother, she had serious doubts about any movement “that can offer nothing to a married woman with three children at the bottom half” of the economic heap.

Wow. Offering something to Hispanics, young people, and–lowest of the low from the way most conservatives talk–women in the bottom half of the economic heap? That’s some radical thinking there. After all, most loud mouth conservatives consider women with three children nothing more than sluts.

To be sure, these guys are conservatives. And it’s hard for me to view Rubio is anything more than an opportunistic politician who will grasp at anything he thinks might help him politically. But it’s freaking about time that conservatives got off their asses and became serious about governance. Let’s hope that something spurs them away from the dogma of unyielding opposition of President Obama and toward actual, honest to God ideas. Please. What a breath of fresh air it would be. We don’t even have to agree with the ideas. Just put some effort into it and show us you’re serious about governing.

It’s about time.