I recently ran across an interesting article in the National Journal,.. recounting an effort (which I applaud) to “rethink” the GOP–to envision a less apocalyptic and less self-destructive party future.
On a Friday in late June in the Texas Hill Country, about an hour outside Austin, some 30 shoeless, mostly libertarian, mostly moderate, mostly Republican guests gathered at the 720-acre, Eastern-inspired ranch of Whole Foods cofounder and co-CEO John Mackey, for a conference on the future of the GOP….
The conference, officially called the Conclave on the Future of the Right, was sponsored by the Institute for Cultural Evolution, which, since 2013, has been focused on “depolarizing” American politics.
After years of watching the Grand Old Party pander to a base of social conservatives and move farther and farther to the Right, the libertarians and fiscal conservatives who used to make their home in the GOP, and who have been feeling increasingly alienated from the party, evidently see in the current crisis an impending opportunity to reassert control.
According to the article, the aim of this meeting was to engage some of them in a conversation about what their dream party might look like.
The tension between order and liberty—and the question of how to maintain the uneasy alliance between social conservatives and libertarians—is hardly new. But the tenor of the conversations suggested that the attendees saw a future in which they and their values formed the GOP’s base, and social issues and their champions were no longer center stage. Their rethought, renewed party would be inclusive and proactive, and would stand for personal freedom, smaller government, and entrepreneurial capitalism.
Participants insisted that they weren’t interested in ejecting social conservatives from the party, but that the “politics of fear” have to go.
As Abner Mason, the CEO of ConsejoSano, an online health care company for Spanish speakers, put it, “We’ve got to leave the hate behind.”
One of the participants was Rich Tafel, President of the Log Cabin Republicans, who opined that “Just like the idea of gay marriage 20 years ago, the concept of the future Right “sounds so far-fetched. But I have no doubt that what we’re doing is going to actually transform it. You have to have ideas first. And you have to stand alone first for a while.”
True–you do have to have ideas first. And I’m rooting for these self-described “thought leaders,” because America desperately needs two rational, adult political parties. But you also have to have a critical mass of people who are willing to leave the fear and hate behind and embrace those ideas.
On that, I’m afraid the jury is still out.