Redefining a party: Building Conservatism in the 21st Century

Mitt Romney was never the leader of the Republican Party, despite winning the GOP nomination for president. But an important questions faces the GOP and conservatism in this country: if not Romney, then who?

Certainly I won’t argue it ought to be the presidential failure of a Massachusetts governor who doesn’t seem to have an ideology of any kind outside of his Mormon faith.

Republicans are now being pulled in so many directions, it’s like the party is being drawn and quartered. And if the Grand Old Party doesn’t choose its leadership wisely, it may just be pulled apart at the seams.

As one Reagan biographer put it in the Daily Caller, “People say this is a fight for the heart and soul of the Republican Party…“That’s bullshit. This is a fight for the mind of the Republican Party.”

Craig Shirley, the biographer in question, told Matt Lewis in the DC that conservatism has yet to be established in the 21st century, a scary idea given that we’re 12 years into the century.

Mitch Daniels believes we ought to solve economic crisis before dealing with social issues. In theory, this is congruent with the way we think about priorities. Our most basic needs must be met first and that includes food and safety, neither of which people have with unemployment hovering at 8% and 50 million people on food stamps.

But the left would never allow it, nor would the media. People don’t want to hear about the dire straights of the U.S. economy, they want to hear zingers about Big Bird and lady parts.

Conservatives can’t win the arguments surrounding fiscal and economic policies, in part because Republican social policy is viewed so negatively.

It’s why Marco Rubio is pushing to create a new Republican platform on immigration, one the entire party can embrace.

The issue with the Republican party is that the loudest voices are heard and those voices tend to be the most extreme. Todd Aiken and Richard Mourdock get headlines, when Aiken in particular is a looney, radical voice that don’t represent mainstream GOP thinking.

But there are fractures in the party on abortion policies, on gay marriage, on defense spending, on taxes, and all sorts of places.

In the wake of so many election defeats, the Democratic party coalesced. They’re the gay marriage party, the pro-women’s health care party, the part of the poor, the sick and the weak.

That’s not my opinion, that’s how they’ve branded themselves and they’ve done it through united opposition to Republicanism.

Republicans, if they hope to survive, have to find similar common ground and they have to find that common ground to connect with mainstream voters. Immigration policy under Rubio is an excellent place to start.

The perception of the party has to change if the conservatives hope the outcome of elections are to change. That starts with strong leadership from men like Rubio in deciding what 21st century conservatism looks like and what the country believes they stand for – the distinction is important because what the Democrats say they stand for is actually counter to many of the policies they’ve actually implemented.

We’re now building 21st century conservatism and if we don’t choose the right architects, the foundation will crumble.

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One thought on “Redefining a party: Building Conservatism in the 21st Century

  1. You hit the nail right on the head. Glad to see my governor mentioned in there too (Mitch!). I would like to pose this question, though: Is the GOP missing out on an opportunity to convert Asian voters as well? We hear talk of Hispanic and African American voters, but Asian Americans also share largely Republican values. What can we do about this?

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