The Republican Party is in trouble: In the wake of the presidential election, everybody has said so, and everybody is right. From there, however, a hundred paths diverge and a thousand voices have been heard. The relevant questions are these: How deep is the trouble? How much of it is self-inflicted and how much is a function of circumstance? Can the problem be repaired, and if so, by what means?
These questions are ones the Washington Post’s Michael Gerson and I take up in the forthcoming (March) issue of COMMENTARY magazine.
The essay recapitulates presidential elections 1968-1988 v. 1992-2012 to show how dramatically things have shifted against the Republican Party; argues that the GOP faces systemic, not transient, problems; and provides a brief history of what Bill Clinton and Tony Blair did to revivify their parties. We believe the Republican Party is nearing a Clinton-Blair moment, meaning a substantial recalibration is necessary. It faces more than a “messaging problem.”
From there we argue that the GOP faces five challenges, including (a) appealing to the economic concerns of working- and middle-class America; (b) becoming a party that welcomes rising immigrant groups; (c) demonstrating a commitment to the common good and social solidarity; (d) engaging vital social issues forthrightly and in a manner that is aspirational rather than alienating; and (e) harnessing the Republican Party’s policy views to the findings of science.
We supply policy suggestions within each category — policies we believe to be substantively right and symbolically useful. We then argue that the challenge for primary voters, party activists, and party leaders is to create the conditions that will give the talented field Republicans do have the intellectual support and leeway to an agenda relevant to our time.
For more, a link to the essay can be found here.