The New Conservatism: Big Tent or Yurt?

In this inaugural post, I wanted to call attention to the Washington Post’s Chriz Cillizza who lists ‘Ten Republicans to Watchin a post featured on the Washington Post blog The Fix.

Certainly, his post starts out with a sense of foreboding (“The great thing about elections is that as soon as the last one ends a new one begins.”), but it goes on to profile ten inexplicable Republican politicians who are somehow forecasted to shape the future of the GOP.

[Link]

Before beginning the list, Cillizza is quick to dispense with both former AR Gov. Mike Huckabee and AK Gov. Sarah Palin as figures to watch. He bellows that Gov. Palin is “VERY lightly regarded by many of the opinion leaders and establishment types within the GOP,” and calls Gov. Huckabee’s politics a “fresh-faced appeal and shtick”.

Among those making Cillizza’s cut are Mitt Romney, John Thune, Steve Poizner (just to save you some Wikipedia time, Poizner is the Insurance Commissioner of California), and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.

In evaluating the conservative movement’s way forward, the wisdom of Cillizza’s assessment is suspect. Axing Governor’s Palin and Huckabee effectively isolates the most prominent, social conservative voices in Republican politics today. To use Gov. Romney’s ‘stool analogy‘ it takes a pro-defense, pro-prosperity, and pro-family values coalition to buttress a healthy Republican Party. Were the GOP to purge social conservatives, this would have the effect of transforming the party from a big tent operation to a yurt.

The problem, of course, is that ‘stool’ can also refer to feces. Although crass, this roughly sums up conservatism’s fortunes in the past two elections. While I question whether any Republican, opinion figures are seriously dismissing the views of social conservatives, even if they were, this should matter little. The Washington establishment has led Republicans to successive defeats, and talking heads offer little in the way of new ideas for solving America’s problems. Surely fracturing the conservative coalition is not a healthy way to proceed.

Hence, this blog.

Just to echo the comments of my friends and fellows, I too am glad to contribute my thoughts on these very serious issues facing the conservative movement, and the country I love. My basic view is that conservatism’s ailments lie in how we communicate our ideas, and in how we inadvertently exclude others from the party. Success follows when we correct both, while concurrently making our pro-defense, pro-prosperity, and pro-values principles relevant to the majority of all Americans.

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One thought on “The New Conservatism: Big Tent or Yurt?

  1. I think that social conservatives are a vital part of the conservative tent. But, as I note in my recent post, I do not think Huck or Palin are the ones to bring everyone together. Again, I return to someone like Jindal. He’s 100% consistent with the social conservative agenda, but he also has proven that he governs according to conservative fiscal principles and has success implementing market-based solutions to health care and education. I think we need someone strong in all the areas, and thankfully, there are a few people like that coming through the pipeline (though not the Alaska pipeline).

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