Saturday, June 28, 2008

A Grand New Party: Progressive Conservatism

Real Clear Politics’ editorial writer Heather Wilhem reviewed a most fascinating new book by Ross Douthat and Riehan Salam-“A Grand New Party”.

Given the on going turmoil over the future of Iowa Republicans Wilhelm's review is propitously timed. Although we don’t agree with every change in dogma and tactics that Douthat and Salam recommend, Wilhelm’s review makes it apparent that the book provides a very good starting point.

Douthat, Salam, Wilhelm and TRS all agree that the first era of modern conservatism is over. Implicit within such a historical reality is the increasing irrelevance of such shallow tags as “paleo con” (e.g. Pat Buchanan and Thomas Dewey) or “neo con” (e.g. Ronald Reagan and Dick Cheney).

In no way does the end of an era denigrate the titanic figures that created and defined the passing era. President Reagan, of course, dwarfs every other politician of the past fifty years or more. The philosophy of Reagan, limited government that maximizes opportunity, national security that provides freedom and optimism that triumphs over the politics of despair, is an essential part of our Republican precedent, from which most modern solutions will arise. However, the exact policies of Reagan are largely incapable of replication in the 21st Century because the times and issues have changed.

Wilhelm argues, quite aptly, that the middle has returned to a state of political neutrality, more up for grabs than it has been at any time since President Reagan crushed the bitter, incompetent Jimmy Carter in a forty five state landslide in 1980.

Reagan’s election was in many ways the nation’s first rejection of liberal stateism. While governing in the last thirty years two things happened: the times changed and we stopped arguing. We foolishly thought George W. Bush’s reelection marked the complete triumph of conservatism. Instead, it was the end of the beginning, not the end, of our ideological and cultural war to save the nation from the despair, poverty, defeat and slavery that marks the end of history for liberals.

Much as the intellectual and political insurgents of the 70s, before they became the governing elite of the 80s and beyond, we Republicans of the 21st Century can only capture that vast undecided middle by demonstrating that conservative principles bring security and prosperity in the current landscape. We can no longer assume that our increasingly apathetic and mis and mal educated population understand how these United States became so rich and so free before the liberal nihilism overtakes us.

Republicans have to demonstrate how applications of historically successful principles (i.e. “conservatism”) can solve the contemporary problems and provide future security and prosperity (i.e.“progressive”) for the majority and not just the few. Indeed, it is difficult for the average voter to understand why the cost of higher education races ahead of inflation of four or five hundred percent, or why the top level executives of struggling industries (e.g. automotive and financial) obtain bonuses measured in hundreds of millions where the companies they manage hemorrhage loss and the average, non union, employee gets a two and a half percent raise. Four dollar gas will kill working and middle class family economies in allowed to continue for more than a couple of years. Similarly, the social decay that has accompanied the triumph of liberal (or libertine) social policy prevents economic solutions by undermining the social predicates of economic success. We need to provide solutions to such difficult and real problems that do not require the Democrats’ socialist alternatives.

Even if we occasionally win elections, if will make little difference if our victories are won by accepting Democrat ideology. After all, Democrat Bill Clinton,was content to sign the Contract with America into law and leave nothing of lasting significance as President because his governance, particularly post 94, was largely within a conservative paradigm.

So we need to decide the future we want, and then make it. The past is over.


Art A Layman said...


Based on David Brooks article about the book, my take was that it laid out a new path with a new emphasis on what was really important.

I didn't get the opinion that it was nothing more than a way to "sell" the same old ideas to a new audience. An audience which you conservatives didn't give a damn about for the last 30+ years.

Your diatribe appears to suggest that you conservatives repackage the old dogma in a way that facilitates dumbing it down for a dumber populace.

RF said...


I haven't read the book and probably won't do so, so I can't comment on it. And my D opinion is irrelevat anyways.

But, I have to give you and your party some serious credit. Your party is in a deep funk and things are not looking good. When faced with these facts, there seems to a real effort in your party to understand this and be self-critical. When my party was badly drifting, from '94 to '04 for sure and still doing so with certain things, the most amazing thing to me was the complete lack of serious self evaluation. It was always someone else's fault - the vast right-wing conspiracy in the 90's, the stolen election in 2000 and the Rovean tactics of 2004. While there is some truth to all those excuses, we never had a serious discussion about the fact that our message was just not selling very well. On many issues, my party is reluctant to revisit party dogmas of the past and have a reality check in the context of the 21st century. It took the total collapse of the R side, thanks to the debacle knows as the W administration, for my side to finally get a decisive victory.

Art A Layman said...


When you have the right answers why would you revisit them?

If you read sporie's post closely it doesn't appear he is suggesting that their dogma is wrong, just that they left out an important group. They now need to focus on that group merely by repackaging the old dogma.

Read David Brooks article about the book. Believe it or not it's more objective than sporie's.

Anonymous said...

So if Reagan was the pre-eminent politico of the last 50 years and Bill Clinton left "nothing of lasting significance," how is it that the population is "increasingly apathetic and mis and mal educated"????

When you've run the country for a generation and things are going to hell, you need to do more than pretend that times changed while you were not looking.

Times changed, alright! And Reagan gets the credit--for breaking unions, for saying "Government is the problem," for ignoring the energy crisis and the AIDs crisis, for trading arms for hostages and for all his other selfish sins. Far from saving the nation from despair and poverty, Reagan's conservative politics have done exactly what you sheepishly admit: boosted poverty, boosted CEO greed, boosted nihilism (torture fits in here), etc.

We're all glad the conservative nightmare is ending.---Spotlight

Anonymous said...

I forgot a couple of Reagan's changes--supporting the death squads in El Salvador and running up huge deficits at home. W revived both of these themes.

Conservatism sure has been a scourge. ---Spotlight (on the ugliness called Conservatism)

Anonymous said...

Progressive Conservatism - what an oxymoron. That's almost as good as Fiscal Conservative!!!!!

vlad the impaler said...


The problem I have with your argument here is that it assumes that "conservatives" are intellectually honest and can spot a phony.

Bush, for example, is not a conservative. He got the nomination and eked out two narrow victories against weak DemocRAT opponents because he claimed to be Christian. The unctious religio wing had a circle jerk instead of actually looking at his policies. There were people in 1999-2000 warning the Republicans about Bush. The unctious religios and the Scheffler faction, most of whom are mind numbed sheep, refused to listen.

Conservatives could have won a major victory. Republicans had control of both houses of CONgress and the Presidency. They pissed it right down their leg. Conservatism did not fail. It was a failure of implementation due to incompetence and corruption.

Mr. Joshua said...

TRS, when in the hell is the state central committee going to correct the problem they created by not making you chairman?

I'm at my wits end and as time goes by I see how you have been right all this time. I thought you were too much of a lightning rod initially and that you would'nt be accepted by the mod wing of the party but I can now see that a couple of lightning rod mods (Schmett, table for 2) do not represent that mod wing of the party as a whole.

We need to do something because the election is just 4 months away and our party at the state level still resembles a monkey f*@#ing a football.

Go get those SCC votes TRS and as chairman give us a chance in Novemeber.

Art A Layman said...

mr. joshua:

There is a school of thought that suggests that if your relying on a sporie to save you, your chances are already slim to none.

Yoda said...

Art a layman,

I bet that "school of thought" is run by the ISEA too.

WAR Sporer!

Anonymous said...

Have you all read your NEWS from STEWMAN?

In case you all were wondering, RPI is NOT working on plans for the election with their nearly non-existent staff and money.

Nope - more important things to do than that. Forget the Red Cross - Forget FEMA - Forget Embrace Iowa.

"The Republican Party of Iowa is developing a flood relief plan to help those who have been impacted by recent flooding. Stay tuned to next week’s update....."

So, the state party is developing a FLOOD RELIEF PLAN????? Perhaps they've just completely given up on working on electing republicans since Stew doesn't know how to raise money or organize that effort.

How about a Stewman relief plan?

Good grief.

Art A Layman said...


Careful, the "force" may not be with you.

Anonymous said...

Don't worry Dave and Rehka - now that they've slashed your pensions, I'm sure they'll be profitable now. It's not the uninteresting content, it was the retirement plan.

June 30, 2008
NEW YORK (AP) -- Even for an industry awash in bad news, the newspaper business went through one of its most severe retrenchments in recent memory last week.

Half a dozen newspapers said they would slash payrolls, one said it would outsource all its printing, and Tribune Co., one of the biggest publishers in the country, said it might sell its iconic headquarters tower in Chicago and the building that houses the Los Angeles Times.

The increasingly rapid and broad decline in the newspaper business in recent months has surprised even the most pessimistic financial analysts, many of whom say it's too hard to tell how far the slump will go.

"They're in survival mode now," said Mike Simonton, a media analyst at Fitch Ratings, a credit analysis agency.

"We had very grim expectations for the sector," Simonton said, and publishers have either met or surpassed his estimates for how bad the results would be."

OUCH - I wonder if Rehka can identify with the buggy maker when the car came along.

The buggy maker arrogantly thought they'd always be in business too.

WAR FOX NEWS! The only place where you can still get the news and not just a personal opinion about the news.

RF said...

"WAR FOX NEWS! The only place where you can still get the news and not just a personal opinion about the news."

Now that's funny! I was having kind of a glum Monday, but that really made me chuckle.

Anonymous said...

"Fair and Balanced" is almost as funny as "Progressive Conservatism"

You guys are SO going to get your asses handed to you in November.

Anonymous said...

mr. joshua
ted and sheffler are going no where.and anonymous is correct the rep social conservatives are going to get it handed to them in nov. most of the party is going to stay home in nov. because of the local players.

Mr. Joshua said...

I didn't say anything about Scheffler. I said I wanted to try letting TRS captain the U.S.S GOP for a breath of fresh air.

I think you are confusing the two.

Art A Layman said...

mr. joshua:

Talk about confusion, didn't you mean "hot air"?

Latham4Congress said...


I am not willing to leave my ideas behind for a slightly less liberal version of a democrat.

If Regan was President we wouldnt have lost anyone in Iraq and we would have already won the war,
Need I remind you we beat the biggest Army the world had ever seen in the Soviets without even losing a single man!

And he did it with a Democratic Majority!

I remember when Newt was against the War in Somalia, and he stopped what could have been a horrible war and loss of money, if Clinton would have had his way.

So now we are war hawks? Where is your soul?

Mark my word, Barack Hussien Obama will be the next President, but not because he'll win, because Conservatives like me will vote for Bob Barr and leave McCain and this "Grand New Party" You'll know next time to put in a real Republican and not some RINO

The Real Sporer said...

6:12-i think you missed my point.

we need to apply reaganesque principles to new problems.

as flr iraq, you are simply delusional. reagan would have kicked saddam's ass out of power in 91. i agree we would probably have had a bigger attack if pres. reagan decided to attack.

however, pres. reagan made a huge mistake in not taking down the syrian regime and destroying the iranian armed forces in 83 when his vast rhetorical skills could have marshalled the nation to war (we were still really pissed about that hostage thing and the barracks bombing, sponsored by Iran and executed by Syrian agents from Syrian controlled parts of Lebanon).

pres. reagan was great, not perfect.

however, its good to know that you supported the continuance of saddam's regime.

Mr. Joshua said...

Art a Laman vs Sporer...

Advantage Sporer.


Anonymous said...

art a layman vs sporer
sporer and sheffler are 2 in 1
advantage art a layman in nov

Anonymous said...

Goddamn, Sporer, you sure are hot to go to war. What again is your Military background, Sporer? Which branch of the service were you in again, Sporer?

Second to None said...

Sporer is one of the Many Republican Cowards who declined to serve in this great nations military.

Sporer is a coward