Friday, December 19, 2008

Towards A Progressive Conservatism, Revisited

About four years ago, I wrote something in an old blog based on a David Brooks essay from 2004. I called the post, "Towards a Progressive Conservatism" and it went something like this:

I've been reading the new book by Jim Wallis called , God's Politics: Why the Right Gets it Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It. In it, he talks about a essay written by New York Times columnist David Brooks last summer. I remember briefly looking at it, but not really getting around to reading it.

If you haven't read it, do so. Now. It's entitled, "How To Reinvent the GOP" and it's a provactive essay on how the Republican Party can reinvigorate itself. His basic argument is that the guiding principle of the GOP in recent decades, namely the size of government, is not an issue anymore. Socialism, which called for a big and interventionist government, is a spent force and the old conservative argument over the size of government is not the issue. Instead he argues for a limited and yet robust government that would spur empowerment among individuals who would in turn, empower the nation.

There's a lot more I should be saying, but it's close to eleven and time for bed. What I can say is that Brooks is advocating for a conservatism in the view of Teddy Roosevelt, a progressive conservatism. I think it's a great blueprint for the party and I could see it expressed in someone like Chuck Hagel.

Okay, so I was wrong on that whole Chuck Hagel thing, but having re-read the Brook's piece, I still think it is an great blueprint for the future of the GOP and it seems that some of these ideas were expressed in the book by Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam, called Grand New Party.

Give the article a read
. Here's a taste:

Nobody knows who the nominee will be that year. (He's referring to 2008.)It could be Bill Frist, Chuck Hagel, Rudy Giuliani, Gov. Bill Owens of Colorado or somebody else -- maybe even Arnold Schwarzenegger. But if the party is going to offer a positive, authoritative vision for the post-9/11 world, which is a world of conflict and anxiety, then it is going to have to develop a strong-government philosophy consistent with Republican principles. It will have to embrace a progressive conservative agenda more ambitious and fully developed than anything the Bush administration has so far articulated.

A candidate who does that would not need to launch an insurgency campaign against the Republican establishment, the way Goldwater did in 1964 or the way Reagan did in 1976. The fact is the Republican Party no longer has a coherent establishment left to inveigh against. Instead, a progressive conservative candidate would have to play a more constructive role. He would have to lay out a vision that would rebuild the bonds among free-market conservatives, who dream of liberty; social conservatives, who dream of decency; middle-class suburbanites, who dream of opportunity; and foreign-policy hawks, who dream of security and democracy. He would have to revive and update the governing philosophy that did bind these groups, and did offer such hope, in the early days of the G.O.P. Long before it was the party of Tom DeLay, the G.O.P. was a strong government/progressive conservative party. It was the party of Lincoln, and thus of Hamilton. Today, in other words, the Republican Party doesn't need another revolution. It just needs a revival. It needs to learn from the ideas that shaped the party when it was born.

1 comment:

Mike at The Big Stick said...

Dennis - I am reading Grand New Party right now. I haven't gotten to the policy proposals yet but I have gotten the short version from the article they co-wrote that spawned the book.

There is no doubt that the party is going to have to find ways to reach the middle. The question will be whether or not they can do it in 'conservative' ways they can live with.