On pot and gay marriage, then, I agree with writers who think Republicans would profit politically from moving in a more libertarian direction, even if isn’t the policy direction I would necessarily choose. On other questions, though — abortion, immigration, tax policy, etc. — the stereotypically libertarian view of where the G.O.P. should go from here seems like straightforward political folly. This isn’t a contradiction; instead, it reflects what I think is an important point for anyone involved in these kind of debates to keep in mind — namely, that voters simply aren’t as ideological consistent as pundits, and so it’s a grave mistake to think that political parties thrive by evolving toward a more perfect ideological consistency. For a party facing problems like the ones the G.O.P. faces now, it’s not enough to just get “more libertarian” or “more populist” or “more socially conservative,” without recognizing how public opinion differs from issue to issue and policy to policy. Instead, the most successful politicians go where the votes are, and let the ideological chips fall where they may.The world is not frozen in the year 1980, but neither will it be frozen in the year 2012. The task for the Republican Party moving forward is to look at the challenges of the day in light of the principles that have motivated the party since its beginnings in the 1850's. Those principles have consistently included a commitment to a robust (but not necessarily imperial) national defense; a defense of the idea of freedom both domestically and in foreign affairs; limited government and fiscal prudence; economic opportunity not only for the wealthy but for the poor and the middle class; and undergirding it all, a conviction that each human being has the fundamental rights to life, liberty and property.
Sunday, November 18, 2012
Ross Douthat on the Republican way forward
His reflections for the approach the GOP should take in re-evaluating its appeal to the electorate is here: Republicans in a Changing World. I think that Douthat's basic approach is sound, although I am not yet willing to throw in the towel regarding the definition of marriage or the legalization of marijuana. Douthat's main point is well-made though and calls for Republicans to move away from a strictly ideological approach to politics and towards a politics that prudentially applies conservative principles to the changing conditions of the world in which we live: