David Frum

03.03.13

It's An Exciting Time to be a Republican

Edmund Burke (via Wikimedia Commons) ()

Peter Wehner firmly plants himself on the side of Republicans who seek a major recalibration of our political party. His list of policy proposals won't come as new to readers of this blog, but you might enjoy what comes next:

[C]reative policy proposals, while essential, are insufficient. Something deeper needs to occur. The party must shake off an intellectual rigidity that has set in. Some examples of this include declaring that not raising taxes is an inviolable principle rather than a reasonable policy judgment and insisting that global warming is a hoax. And a self-confident conservative movement would not bar the gay group GOProud or New Jersey Governor Chris Christie from its events, as the Conservative Political Action Conference has done. The theory of addition through subtraction doesn't work in mathematics or politics.

There is an alternative conservative tradition to draw on that seeks to accommodate timeless principles to shifting circumstances, that rejects unyielding orthodoxy and believes prudence, not purity, is the cardinal political virtue. And while it believes in limited government, it is not carelessly antigovernment. The 19th century economist Alfred Marshall elegantly described government as "the most precious of human institutions, and no care can be too great to be spent on enabling it to do its work in the best way. A chief condition to that end is that it should not be set to work for which it is not specifically qualified, under the conditions of time and place."