Matthew Continetti writes that conservatives, while wandering in the political wilderness, will have plenty of time to start thinking creatively about policy. He suggests: “A place to start would be to distinguish between interventions in the economy that might lead us out of this mess and those that will prolong the suffering.” That seems right, and points to a danger for conservatives.
President Obama and the Democratic Congress will have a thousand plans and billions of dollars for everything that ails America. Many will be bad or silly or wasteful but they will be active. The Republicans will be cast as the obstructionists and the “do-nothing” party when they object to these schemes. And both in the House and the Senate they will, given the strict rules imposed by Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, have limited opportunities to introduce their own bills. The challenge will therefore be for the Republicans to devise, present and get oxygen for their ideas, provided they have them.
And they should think creatively, not just about the ideas but how to present them. A shadow cabinet? A road show? A webcast day sponsored by the RNC? All or some of these might work to give visibility to the alternative views of Repbulicans. But there’s the rub– what are those ideas? Half (at least) of the party repeats the mantra that they want to return to “core values” which sounds like doing virtually nothing. But let’s get real — we’re in the worst recession in a generation so doing virtually nothing doesn’t have much sell.
It seems that a good project for Rep. Mike Pence (head of the Republican Conference) or the new head of the Republican National Committee would be to find ten or twenty of the best ideas on economic growth, energy, health care, education and the like. (Ask those successful governors or talk to Rep. Paul Ryan, who has a hundred of them.) Then figure out how they are going to get the public’s attention. And next convince the public that there are alternatives to the mega-Keynsian spend-a-thon which will take place in Washington. It’s a whole lot of work and it will be hard. But what else do Republicans have to do?