Posted by: Patrick | November 15, 2008

History in the Making

Well, it’s been a little more than a week since the historic butt-kicking of the GOP at all levels.  While I’m profoundly disappointed at the performance of my Party on election day 2008, I’m more angry at the level of non-performance of the Party over the last 8 years.

After the 2000 election, the Republicans and Bush had a wonderful opportunity to make “Compassionate Conservatism” the majority governing paradigm for the next 20 years or so.  Simply put, compassionate conservatism is a political philosophy that stresses using traditionally conservative techniques and concepts in order to improve the general welfare of society.  Unfortunately, after 9/11, both Bush and the Party focused almost exclusively on the War on Terror and lost the opportunity to extend the Party’s reach and inclusiveness across other facets of society — health care, domestic poverty, education and the economy.

While preventing another a major attack on American soil is an accomplishment Bush and the Party deserve credit for, the mismanagement of the War in Iraq was another dent to conservatives’ compassionate rationale for liberating a brutally oppressed Iraqi people.

So at the present moment, the GOP sits at a point in history where we’re soul searching.  There are the usual voices clamoring that we just need “more conservatism” spoken more loudly and packaged in a cool hip Obama-like media/tech-savvy way.  These are the same people in large part responsible for the Party losing its soul after the Contract with America revolution, ushered in by Newt Gingrich and innovative Governors like Tommy Thompson, John Engler, Christine Todd Whitman and George Allen.

In my opinion, the “old traditional (dare I say vanilla) conservatives” have no clue what they’re talking about.  Specifically, but not exclusively, I’m talking about “rising star conservative” political leaders like Mike Pence (IN) and Eric Cantor (VA) who I saw on a recent episode of Fox News talking about the future of the Party.  I walked away from watching their post-election conversation completely uninspired and downright peeved that they’re emblematic of Party leadership who don’t “get it.”

In the end, the pathway back to respectability for Republicans is not slick web 2.0 campaigns and repackaging of the same “old conservatism”.  In my opinion it is “Compassionate Conservatism” — appealing to both the right brain (creative and emotional) and the left brain of the electorate.  Conservatism has to unequivocally and unambiguously stand for the improvement of the general welfare of society for all people.  In doing so, I believe the leaders able to best articulate this message and execute it as Governors, Mayors, community organizers (yes, community organizers) will be the type of people who will draw diverse people by race, gender, socio-economic class, geography, religion, et al back to the Party.

In that vein, I think Gov. Palin and Gov. Jindal are history in the making for the GOP.

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Responses

  1. To appeal to the left and right brains, you have to have a brain. Aren’t you concerned that Palin is lacking in that department? Media bias aside, she just doesn’t measure up to the best and brightest and didn’t offer up any meaningful solutions, other than fairly rudimentary soundbite criticism of her opponents.

    I totally agree about compassionate conservatism – I’d be inclined to vote for the Republicans because I’m committed to social causes and believe the answer is in empowerment. But the Republicans have no platform that’s relevant to the social causes I care about. For example, the issue of child welfare should be reframed in terms of making smart economic sense – investing to create taxpayers rather than criminals or lifetime consumers of social services. But all the Republicans do is talk about cutting programs, giving tax breaks, and filling the prisons with the results. They seem to have no vision for how to run major government programs themselves, just a general notion they should be cut without an idea of what comes next.

  2. Regarding Palin, I measure her by her track record as a public sector executive. When based on the merit of her work as opposed to the media image generated through this election cycle I find both the substance and the style of her approach to governing one that I support. Oddly enough, with an 80% approval rating of the governed in Alaska, I find that proof enough of her potential on a larger stage… which is more than I can say about any other Gov save for Jindal.

    Stay tuned, I had some friends who met her down at the RGA Conference in Miami last week and they both walked away very impressed. She has innate star power and the Party is in need of stars and not just vanilla conservative politicians.

    Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  3. Popularity of a politician isn’t a good measure of intellectual horsepower or even substance. Approval rating in Alaska right now probably reflects a lot of reaction to criticism and mockery of that state that accompanied the attacks on Palin during the election. I’ll try and keep an open mind on her, but there are no writings or speeches that I’ve seen that suggest more than an average intellect and ability to engage in a populist debate style.

  4. Has any one of us really known Gov. Palin for a substantial period of time as to question her mental capacity. As I’ve asked several of her detractors, “How would you perform if you were literally thrust on the national scene in the most emotional Presidential election of our lifetime?”

    I think even the most astute of us would be like a prize fighter that takes a sucker punch after the opening bell. We’d have shake it off and get our feet back under us. Did anyone watch the OK-TT game? That may be a pretty good analogy.


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