Which Way is Right?
I am a Republican. There can be no other political home for me. But these are not happy times on the right side of the aisle. Why? Because the world has changed dramatically since the last time we gave any serious thought to what we believe. No, I’m not talking about the Reagan years. The last time we as Republicans did some serious philosophical work was during the period when Reagan was built. It is an era now shrouded in the mists of legend. The fleeting season before America and the world descended into the buzz-saw of “The Sixties.” A nearly forgotten age of horn-rimmed glasses, tight haircuts, and gray suits. A time when people could speak with emotion about duty and honor without the slightest odor of cynicism.
Those few years leading up to the 1964 Presidential election were the beginning of an era that could have ended very differently. But in the midst of its crushing 1964 defeat, the Republican Party developed the ideological identity that would allow to it return to power and breathe new life into our nation and the world.
Apart from the scale of our recent defeat, it is hard to find parallels between our present situation and what we experienced in the years after ’64. In the wake of the ’64 election the party had the potent and persuasive writings of Barry Goldwater to use a template. Now we have to turn to leadership figures like Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin, neither of whom is fit to clean the smudges from the late Barry’s glasses. And thus far with Dick Cheney and Rush Limbaugh as our marketing directors, we are staking out a carefully tailored position as the party of torture, paranoia, supreme executive power, heckling, oil companies, poor gas mileage, gay-baiting, and unregulated banking. Oh, and Jesus. So long as he doesn’t actually show up. Because my guess is if he did return and got himself a Typepad account, we’d be finished (What Would Jesus Tweet?).
Somehow I don’t think that this makeover is gonna prove to be a winner. We need to find another way. The party did it after ‘64. We can do it again.
In spite of all the apparent confusion it is not all that hard to identify the core message that could return the Republican Party to dominance, and more importantly, allow America to find her feet again. What will be difficult is communicating that message in the midst of all the hysterical raving that dominates the party at present.
Toward that end, I’m going to do my small part by outlining the way forward as well as I can see it. Around the country thousands of other people will be doing the same thing. Working out these problems in their own minds, then refining those solutions in coordination with one another, we’ll speak and listen and argue and work. By participating in this way instead of walking away in frustration our efforts, like stones in a cathedral, might add up to something greater than the sum of our individual blogs.
I’ll start with my humble assessment of where we are and how we got here. I’ll describe a core philosophy that I think can be valuable to guiding this effort, and the Party. Then I’ll walk through a series of issues.
Let’s get started.