In reaction to my post on the intellectual unfreezing of the GOP, I received an e-mail from Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform.
His argument to me (which he said I am free to share) is that the Republican Party and the conservative movement has in fact developed sound policies without a president pushing and pulling it and that we’re beyond waiting for the next Ronald Reagan, having developed many Jack Kemps.
What Norquist means by that is that there are exciting and encouraging developments that are occurring in the House (see especially Representative Paul Ryan’s last two budgets) and in the states, where Republican governors are advancing reforms dealing with taxes, pensions, education and more. Mr. Norquist’s broader point is that Members of Congress, governors, and state legislators are making real progress in the “new ideas” department, and that deserves to be recognized.
I don’t disagree with that at all, as anyone who has read my writings at Contentions over the years knows. In fact, I’m not sure there are many people who have been more vocal in their support for what Ryan is doing on entitlement reform, as well as tax reform.
My point in writing the piece was to welcome what I call the “unfreezing” of the GOP – meaning its willingness to entertain new and creative ideas from a variety of places. I do think it’s a fair to say, however, that in my post I should have acknowledged what’s occurring at the national and local level. And now, as an addendum, I have.
I should add, though, that however good those ideas may be, a good deal more work needs to be done, both substantively and symbolically. Because, as Michael Gerson and I argue in our essay in the March issue of COMMENTARY, in the 2012 election Republicans did poorly in an election they should have done well in and the current trends for the GOP – demographic and otherwise — are not encouraging.
Gerson and I offered our thoughts on five areas the GOP is vulnerable, along with specific recommendations about what to do about it. We say explicitly in the essay that the agenda we sketched out is neither comprehensive nor definitive, but is intended as a spark for discussion. If it helps a bit in that regard, count me pleased.