This is worth a read, especially by conservatives. Written by a fellow conservative (of the sort whose existence I've always assumed exist in numbers greater than just my coffee-buddy: the thoughtful kind) on the blog of a fellow conservative, one whom I've occasionally quoted and who's become anathema to the teabaggRs exactly because he is thoughtful, it suggests a possible future for the Republican party. Namely, by returning to actual conservatism, as opposed to the insanity that's taken firm hold on the party he seems to have loved:
A colleague once compared working on Frum's blog to "monks preserving knowledge during the Dark Ages." If this is true, then what were we preserving? I've thought about this for several weeks, and I think the following are the most important lessons I've learned from my time on this project.
(Quotes that follow are taken from memory, and are often paraphrases.)
1. Inequality is Real, and it Matters.
There needs to be an acknowledgment that mobility and opportunity are not as prevalent in America as we want them to be. Admitting that can allow for an honest discussion about how to rectify that.
2. A Positive Republican Alternative is Possible.
At times, talking with David about the GOP felt like talking about a Republican Party that had yet to be brought into existence.
Instead of just bemoaning the latest ridiculous comment from talk radio, a lot of time was spent discussing what conservatism could and should be.
Why couldn't the Republicans and conservatives…
-Embrace gay marriage with the same enthusiasm as David Cameron? ("I don’t support gay marriage in spite of being a conservative. I support gay marriage because I am a conservative.")
-Would it really be so hard for the GOP to renounce Austrian economics and support monetary stimulus in an emergency? (As Milton Friedman would have done.)
-Could the pro-life movement change priorities from criminalizing abortion to working to find effective ways to disincentivize it?
-Can Republicans acknowledge that a Tax Credit is just as bad a subsidy?
3. If you Abandon the Party, Crazies Take Over.
4. Sarah Palin is not the Problem, Thought Leaders Are
I think there are many people who initially supported David's project back in 2009 because they agreed, at least in whispered tones, that Sarah Palin was probably not the best standard-bearer of the party, and that she may not even be qualified for higher office. (What a contrarian viewpoint to hold at that time!)
There is definitely an appeal in critiquing Republicans who are obviously unqualified to govern. But critiquing Sarah Palin, Todd Akin, Sharon Angle, Herman Cain, and Michele Bachmann, is actually very easy. (Often, you just have to quote them.)
Where it gets hard is when you have politicians and thinkers who are not self-evidently troglodytes but who none the less have ideas that are deeply problematic. There are a lot of bad ideas that get a decent amount of mainstream credibility and acceptance just because they sound technical or smart.
Successfully challenging thought-leaders is not as easy or as fun as laughing at social conservatives who don't believe in evolution, but it's more important.