Politics

02.21.13

The Limits of Rethinking the Republican Party

Loads of stuff this week from conservative intellectuals on the future of the Republican Party. This all begins with the essay in Commentary by Peter Wehner and Michael Gerson, which is pretty good and offers a five-point plan:

1. Care about the middle and working classes in economic terms.

2. Embrace immigrants.

3. Embrace the common good (hey, watch it, bubs!)

4. Be, ah, more nimble on social issues.

5. Embrace science "where approrpiate." (!)

Ross Douthat has been responding to this, and Yuval Levin, and several others. But the GOP's problem isn't just policy per se.

The elected officials--in Washington, at least; there are a few exceptions, and I do mean a few only, around the state capitals--are mad as hatters. The base is consumed with rage at the people it thinks are ruining America. This is the GOP's problem. It's not about policy. It's about the emotional DNA that governs the party. Any to-do list that doesn't start with "stop listening to Rush Limbaugh" is misidentifying the problem.

It's a fine conversation these fellows are having, but they might as well be having it in one of those little waiting areas of a car wash. No one in office is listening to them. As my friend Rich Yeselson has observed, there has probably never been, in the history of intellectual and political classes (with the former existing to support the latter), an intellectual class more resolutely ignored by its political class.