What is wrong with the Republican Party? And what is to be done about it?
That seems to be the consensus problem-of-the-week for conservatives. From Bob Dole to Ben Domenech. And let's not forget the March Commentary piece by Michael Gerson and Peter Wehner.
And a reader of my "Riots and Liberals" piece asked for more than just diagnosis. How do we deal with liberals and "disincentivize their actions."
Gerson and Wehner call for a five point program for Republican revival. First the problems:
- Fewer white people, so Republicans must reach out.
- Foreign policy failure, and Republicans have been losing the argument in the war on terror.
- Weak candidates.
- Stale ideas
- Reputation for judgementalism.
- Focus "on the economic concerns of working-and middle-class Americans." Like "end corporate welfare as we know it."
- Welcome immigrants instead of dissing them.
- "[E]xpress and demonstrate a commitment to the common good". Defuse the idea that Republicans are hyper-individualistic with appeals to "civil society."
- Make GOP approach to social issues "aspirational rather than alienating." The problem is not gay marriage, it is the collapse of heterosexual marriage.
- Don't make war on science.
Maybe. He thinks the GOP can be populist and also call for bold reform of, e..g., Social Security and Medicare.
The truth is, however, that politics runs on fear, fear of the enemy. And if that is not enough, it crosses over into the territory of religion and rails on about good and evil.
So it must take up the problems of the moment and drench them in the language of warfare and the opposition of right and wrong.
That is what liberals do when they talk about corporate greed and intolerance. Why can't I get a job? It's because of greedy corporations. Why is my house in foreclosure? It's because of greedy bankers. Why does health care cost so much? It's because of those greedy insurance companies. Why is my life a mess? It's because of those judgemental conservatives. And after they have got people riled up then liberals proceed to implement their top-down centralizing ideas.
In a way, the ideas don't matter. It is the Alinskyizing of the guilty parties that creates the opportunity for political change. You have to have things going wrong and have the effrontery to blame the ruling class. Then you get into power and you start to legislate.
So you can expect GOP rhetoric in the next couple of years to return to the "liberals, liberals, liberals" line of the good old days. Why can't I get a job? It's because of job-killing liberals. Why can't I get health insurance? It's because of corrupt and unjust Obamacare liberals. Why does it cost me $100 to fill up my truck? It's because of corrupt liberals and greedy green energy. Why is food so expensive? It's because of cruel liberals forcing farmers to grow corn for fuel instead of food.
But even then, conservatives are operating under a disadvantage, because liberals, as the ruling class, get to define reality. The fact is that liberals get to tell little children what to believe in school, and liberals get to tell young adults what to believe in movies and on TV and the social media sites.
Conservatives have plenty of good ideas, but, we will find that we can only go forward with those ideas after the liberal ruling class has been utterly discredited. Maybe it can't happen until the current school system breaks down and middle-class parents desert it.
But there is a light in the tunnel. It is that the Obama way is going to get utterly discredited in the next three years, as scandals multiply and people start to suffer until the administrative monstrosity of Obamacare.
But still, so long as liberals can hand out free stuff to their supporters, so long will they maintain political power.
My point is this. We know what needs to be done. But Americans will not agree to change until they see disaster in the face. They would be fools to do otherwise. When that day arrives conservatives need to be ready not just with the right politics and a program, but also a moral/cultural system to demolish liberals as a ruling class.
Then we can move into a better world.