Tag Archives: GOP future

“You Have to Have Ideas First”

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.