Commentary Magazine


Help Wanted: Conservative Leaders

Karl Rove has a batch of constructive ideas for Republicans. (Shockingly, he doesn’t suggest “pick fights between pundits” or “debate how important social conservatives are to the GOP”), but rather this:

[W]hile it’s the responsibility of all, someone must take the lead on training candidates and party leaders and nurturing their focus on ideas. Under its founder, Newt Gingrich, GOPAC once did this. It needs to be revitalized or its original mission taken up by a fresh group.

The Democrats  taking back Congress and the White House shows that it pays to scour the country, recruit new political faces, and provide financing and support to help them grow and win races. Barack Obama used his considerable political talents to win a U.S. Senate seat, but was given a primetime venue in the 2004 Democratic Convention. “A star was born” — or rather encouraged.

The political stars of the next generation may not be young — they may be doing something else. Someone, or some entity, needs to search through the military, private businesses and even universities for charismatic, intelligent figures who can excite voters and explain conservative ideals. Somehow Democrats have found a way to do this, and Republicans must do the same if they want to stay competitive.

In part this is why the sterile, pundit-driven discussion about the “future of conservatism” has limited value. The future of conservatism is going to come from future leaders who become political leaders because they have great ideas or a unique ability to present them.

In an economic downturn employment recruiters won’t have much to do. Perhaps the GOP should hire a bunch and set them out with a recruiting task: find the next generation of conservative leaders. (“Experience in politics is preferred, but not required.”)