Friday, November 7, 2008

Where To Now?

As fascinating to me as the new administration may be one thing draws my interest even more - what next for the Republican Party?

In the face of fresh losses, party members and media look over the landscape wondering what made it so. Some will conclude that it is all George W. Bush's fault. Some will conclude it was the terrible economy. Some will think it was because the party wasn't conservative enough. As they do, they could draw the party into permanent minority status.

I recall thinking that the Democratic Party had no ideas. They were running on a solitary mantra - Bush is bad. If Bush wanted something, the Democrats didn't want it. I imagine that had Bush supported unionizing the entire workforce of America, the Democrats would have opposed it. When the Democrats took control of Congress in 2006, they did nothing to prove me wrong. I encourage anyone to list the significant legislative accomplishments of the 110th Congress. Even as the presidential season got into full gear, it wasn't so much that Barack Obama was running on fresh, new ideas as he was running on the idea that Bush is bad.

Then the Republican Party went and did the same thing. They'd won enough legislative victories that their platform had grown a little stale. Dismal poll numbers and minority status led to the same defensive posturing as the Democrats had employed for the last 8 years. In the face of a Democratic opponent running on charisma even more than substance, the Republican Party failed to offer up anything new...and lost.

Ronald Reagan formed the modern incarnation of the Republican Party by marrying the wealthy and corporate fiscal conservatives to the evangelicals and social conservatives. For thirty years it worked. Yet the Republican Party has spurned both wings of the party. Taxes may be lower, but the size and spending of the government has run rampant. Abortion is still legal. Gay marriage continues to advance. Family values are more campaign talking point than political reality. It isn't that the Republican Party has been a failure. The Republican Party has simply run its course.

It seems to me that the Republican Party has two options - develop innovative, new, free market solutions to the problems Americans worry about or quietly fold the tent. The Democratic Party has become an amalgam of political philosophies (many that were elected in the last two years would have been Republicans a decade ago). Something has to give. In a country that has become so enamored with the niche, it seems hard to believe we can continue to be satisfied with only two parties.

Perhaps it is time that the Republicans choose to be the party of social conservatism. Perhaps then the Libertarian Party could get over its propensity for nominating crazy people and adopt a pragmatic libertarianism (classical liberalism, if you will).

James Madison favored factional government. Maybe the time has finally come.

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1 comment:

RightKlik said...

We need a new Ronald Reagan. I think Bobby Jindal should be our next president.