Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Rod Dreher sums it up:

This election represents not an affirmative embrace of neoliberalism but rather a repudiation of the Republican Party and a certain kind of conservatism. It's important for the left to recognize this in order to avoid the temptation to overreach in the heady Democratic days to come. One-party government didn't work out so well for the Republicans during the Bush years — and going further back, Bill Clinton's misreading of the meaning of his 1992 victory caused him to make several key political errors that Democrats paid dearly for in the 1994 midterm election. To be sure, Obama has an opening now to move the country to the left, but it's not clear that that's where we want to go.

That said, the Obama Democrats' greatest ally will almost certainly be the addled Republican Party, which will be wandering around for some time like a google-eyed Wile E. Coyote after he's had an anvil dropped on his head. The recriminations on the right will make the Night of the Long Knives look like a knitting-needle ticklefest.

The civil war among conservatives will be between an enraged rump of die-hard knotheads and a disparate group of reformers. The knotheads believe that Obama's victory came thanks to the treason of some conservative intellectual elites and McCain's failure to be more like Reagan, whatever that means 20 years after the Gipper left the White House. Sarah Palin is the standard-bearer for the talk-radio faction within knotheadism, and Mitt Romney will emerge as the GOP establishment's last stand.

Well said.

2 comments:

Deuce said...

The civil war among conservatives will be between an enraged rump of die-hard knotheads and a disparate group of reformers.

The keyword here is "disparate". The various "reformers" are all over the place. Should the GOP listen to the ones urging it to drop social issues and focus on economic ones, or the ones urging it to do the opposite? Or the ones who don't know what they want, but are just vaguely angry at the GOP?

One example: Dreher (a reformer type who I'd put in the 3rd category) backed Huckabee, and was angered at the notion of the GOP considering someone like Giuliani. But Giuliani was the favorite of David Frum, one of those "intellectual elites" that the "knotheads" are apparently so closed-minded for being angry at now. And now Dreher seems to think the Reaganites are being close-minded and self-destructive for saying good riddance to a guy like Chris Buckley, who is far more socially liberal than David Frum.

The point is, the GOP can't listen to all the reformers, because the reformers are an even more confused mess than the mainstream, and their advice is contradictory. Regardless of who the GOP listens to, they're going to have to put together and present a coherent, compelling philosophy in order to win again, and that's going to mean casting at least some reformers into outer darkness, so to speak.

I think that, in the end, the folks who say that the GOP needs to be more like Reagan are basically correct. Or rather, the GOP needs to return to some semblance of the clear, coherent worldview that Reagan had, and to form policies derived from it, not least because it was essentially correct. That doesn't imply anti-intellectualism. Reagan himself was certainly no anti-intellectual.

Of course, that doesn't mean that the current crop of Reaganites isn't largely comprised or knotheads, or that they are capable of doing what needs to be done.

John Farrell said...

Yeah. I frankly see no one on the horizon right now. I'm neither a fan of Giuliani, nor Romney. It's all going to depend on whether Obama is like JFK when tested on foreign issues...or another Jimmy Carter, in which case he's a one-termer.