David Frum, The Big Tent, and Splenetic Conservatives

There are few on the right who have thought more about where conservatism is and where it should be going than David Frum. Frum is a former Bush speechwriter, National Review writer, author and columnist. He just started a new blog called The New Majority which features a wide range of conservative opinion mixed with some nuts and bolts politics.

Along with Ross Douthat, Marc Ambinder, David Brooks, and a precious few other conservatives, Frum is looking deeply and seriously at conservatism's flaws, strengths, and perhaps most importantly and relevantly, how to translate conservative principles into actionable political ideas that can win elections and establish a sound basis for governance.

In short, Frum and his new blog will almost certainly be one of the focal points in the conservative movement for the foreseeable future - or at least, it should be. The New Majority is where ideology and practical politics will merge as various strains of conservatism wrestle with ways to become relevant in the Age of Obama.

That Age is well underway, having begun even before Obama was elected. There was nothing subtle about the media's clear preference in the November election, the consequences of which have yet to play out. The only thing certain is that to a degree not seen since the early 1960's, conservatism as an ideology is being dismissed by the political class as irrelevant. When politicians start running away from basic conservative principles and embrace the milquetoast center or center- left, including bailout mania and other manifestations of creeping statism, you know it's time to roll up your sleeves and get to work rebuilding a shattered conservative polity.

As I see it, there are several tracks to a conservative revival, all working toward the same goal but in strikingly different ways. You have the generalists like Frum and his cohorts who are seeking to infuse conservatism with new ideas and a new frame of reference for the old ones. Then there are the web gurus like Patrick Ruffini and his stalwart band at The Next Right who are trying to drag the Republican party and conservative movement into the 21st century by creating an army of connected, online activists. The libertarian conservatives have entered the fray with a new blog called The Secular Right which features a group of excellent writers and thinkers like Heather McDonald, Andrew Stuttaford, Walter Olsen, and National Review's John Derbyshire. Reason Magazine is a little more independent but still has some solid conservatives contributing.


The libertarians perhaps have the longest way to come back and thus represent the greatest challenge to all who are interested in rebuilding the movement. The long-simmering tensions between social cons and libertarians exploded in open warfare over the Terry Schiavo issue and continued with the Harriet Meyers fiasco, immigration, and finally, the presidency of George Bush himself. Many libertarians abandoned Bush even before the 2006 electoral debacle - something which the social cons will not soon forget. Nor did libertarians care much for Sarah Palin which ended up splitting the movement into two spitting, warring factions where some believed Palin the second coming of Reagan while others shook their heads in disbelief over such nonsense.

It is a breach that will not soon be healed. Palin will remain a talisman for social conservatives into the foreseeable future. And as long as she is a figure of importance to the social cons, it is doubtful most honest libertarians (or right leaning centrists) will want to have anything to do with conservatives politically.

And that brings us to the social conservatives, many of whom are perfectly happy with how conservatism is defined although they are not pleased with how it is perceived. There appears little in the way of a reform movement for social cons. For them, conservatism needs a face lift - cosmetic changes that will keep their core beliefs about abortion, gay rights, and other cultural issues front and center but perhaps soften or reframe the debate. But as far as rethinking or even redefining conservative principles, social cons simply don't see the need.

I apologize if I have unnecessarily been too general in my analysis of social cons because there are brilliant social conservatives who are thinking about the future and how to bring the warring factions together. The problem as I see it is with a relatively small but vocal and somewhat influential subset of social conservatives who fancy themselves gatekeepers and arbiters of conservative dogma. I call them "Splenetic Conservatives" for obvious reasons. And to my mind, they are the biggest obstacle to a conservative revival. More than any other faction, splenetic conservatives are fiercely resisting the idea of "Big Tent" conservatism and wish to purify the movement, purging it of alien ideas and personalities that espouse positions on issues at variance with their own.

This has not only had a deadening effect on intelligent debate but has placed a roadblock in the way of uniting the movement at a time when the actual numbers of people identifying themselves as "conservative" is falling. Whole swaths of the American electorate abandoned the Republican party and conservatism in the last election and now identify with the more tolerant, less dogmatic Democrats. How long this will last is an unknown. But even the failure of Obamaism will probably not be enough to win them back as long as splenetic conservatives feel they can dictate who can join their little club. Pro-Choice? Not in my house! Pro-Gay marriage? Surely, you joke. Immigration reform? Round 'em up! War on Terror? Kill the Muslims!

Is this the way to a conservative majority? Is this the path to reforming the conservative movement so that once again we can tolerate our differences without lining someone up against a wall because they have strayed from the straight and narrow path set down by the splenetic conservatives?

The face of conservatism used to be a happy face, a confident face, an optimistic face. I suppose its easy to be happy if you are winning elections but there was more to it than that, more to it than even the fact that the naturally sunny disposition of Ronald Reagan was at the head of the movement. That optimism and happiness was born in the give and take of debate when Big Ideas - consequential, important ideas - were the stuff of bull sessions, conferences, panel discussions, and papers published at the various think tanks. All factions of conservatism had their say. There was passionate disagreements over everything. But somehow, we never lost sight of the goal - building a conservative movement where ideas translated into government action.

Somewhere along the way, we gave into the temptation to use conservative ideas to divide rather than unite. This tactical decision brought electoral success but at a price. It gave social conservatives and their splenetic base a platform to dominate the movement and the Republican party. The price for that mistake is still being paid.

I will give the splenetic conservatives credit where credit is due; they vote. And they contribute money to the movement and the Republican party. And in many parts of the United States, they are the Republican party, supplying not only funds but volunteers for campaigns who do the hard, slogging work of trying to get Republicans elected.

It is ironic that they are a larger group than most give them credit for but smaller in numbers than they themselves believe. They dominate the right side of the internet as well as many local Republican organizations (I have quit three different GOP groups because I got tired of people telling me I wasn't a conservative). And if you cross them, you are in for much unpleasantness as many of the anti-Palin conservatives discovered. Is it important? The press has chosen to make splenetic conservatives the face of conservatism - for obvious reasons. Anything that can make conservatism look intolerant, bigoted, dangerous, and ignorant will gleefully be used to portray all conservatives in a negative light. We saw this in the waning days of the campaign when the press began to focus on "angry" crowds at McCain and Palin rallies, thus tarring all McCain supporters unfairly as yahoos and haters.

Ridding ourselves of these meddlesome and problematic screamers is not the issue. Opening their minds to the possibilities of compromise is a useless exercise - not when they see compromise as apostasy deserving of excommunication. Attempting to marginalize them would be playing their game. Besides, cutting off one's legs as a way to heal the body is a strange way of reforming the movement. There must be a place for them at the conservative table - even if they have to be strapped down and force fed some hard truths about the exigencies of power and how futile their campaign to purify the movement when it comes to the raw exercise of democracy at the ballot box. Elections are about numbers; your side needs one more vote than the other side to win.

Michael K. Powell explains:

believe the Republican Party is on the precipice of irrelevance if it cannot rebuild a respect for civil debate-including self-criticism. The formation of powerful ideas requires the push and pull of varying viewpoints testing and informing one another. The litmus test politics that has abducted the party, has dulled the edge of its ideas, discourages those who respond to intellectual rigor, and repels too many from the party who are unwilling, as a condition of admission, to sign an oath of allegiance to a set of talking points.

Additionally, to have a future an institution must appeal to generations of the future. Appealing to youth is vital for rebirth. Yet, we seem trapped in a time warp. The Party has failed to fully comprehend how the young interact and communicate in an era transformed by the digital revolution. We do not yet appreciate their passions and their fears, nor pause to look at the world through their eyes. Battling to be a voice of technology and innovation is vital. In the world of youth, you must first “get it” before you are listened to.

The Party also must be more sober about the demographic transformation that is taking place in America. We are a browning nation, but a Party seemingly incompetent in connecting with America’s diversity and its ascendant multiculturalism. We are stuck in antiquated notions of race. My kids saw Barack Obama not as black but as modern. His race and enlightened manner of dealing with it captures how the young see themselves.

Allah (who links to a fascinating interview with Rudy Guiliani at Frum's New Majority where hizzoner states that de-emphasizing social issues is the way back for Republicans) answers the question of what to do about the divisions in the movement quite nicely, giving the bleak alternatives:

[T]he key bit comes near the end of the second clip. He’s not asking the party to abandon social conservatism, just to nudge it towards the background and make foreign policy and fiscal responsibility the core of the platform. Which … is essentially the approach McCain took.

He’s right about the dwindling numbers of the base, though. I think the GOP’s tacit strategy now is to wait and hope for (1) a messianic figure of its own to emerge and build a new coalition through the sheer force of his/her charisma and/or (2) Democrats to overreach so egregiously that even minority voters who wouldn’t dream of voting Republican today will run screaming for the embrace of small government. All of which is fine, but the opposite of proactive. I wonder how long we’ll be waiting.

If I were Allah, I wouldn't hold my breath for either of those eventualities. Palin is not acceptable to a large portion of the GOP if not a majority. Besides her bona fides as a "messianic figure" are not very impressive. Bobby Jindahl is an interesting man with a fascinating story but pinning hopes for a revival on the young man may be premature.

If no messiah, what then? First things first and that means uniting the movement with or without a dominant personality. Much more difficult if the latter but until someone comes along, someone has to do something to build bridges and not burn them.

Political strategist John Avlon on the Big Tent:

Somehow Republicans have lost common ground – Reagan invoked the Big Tent constantly as a way of collecting libertarian conservatives, national security conservatives, economic conservatives and social conservatives under one banner. But the spirit of outreach and inclusiveness has been drummed out of the GOP – disagreement is seen as disloyalty, and the search for heretics has become a hobby. Libertarians are losing any logical reason to affiliate with the GOP, while centrist Republicans are seen as suspect almost by definition. When Senators like Olympia Snowe or John McCain win re-election with over 70% of the vote, they are considered sell-outs rather than successes. I’ve debated conservatives on TV who were rooting for Norm Coleman to lose, because they considered him insufficiently conservative. This road leads not just to political disaster, but party suicide. Republicans who have won statewide in the Northeast tend to be centrist on social issues, especially on a woman’s right to chose and gay civil rights. Republicans must welcome social moderates into the big tent of the GOP, focus on finding common ground and not treat them as second class citizens. Remember: In a place where everyone thinks alike, nobody is thinking very much.

What do you do when reason does not work on the unreasonable? How can you be inclusive when a minority insists on using what power it possesses to maintain exclusivity?

What in God's name is to be done with the Splenetic Conservatives?

I have taken much abuse on this site and others I write for from these galoots. I have not been shy about returning the invective either. Clearly, it doesn't get anybody anywhere for us to shout and call each other vile names. But even when I am calm and rational about debate - not as often as I should be, I'll grant - it's worse than talking to a stone wall. In fact, the milder my response, the more outraged these pinheads get. It's as if their minds function on only one level and trying to appeal to reason or even charity only enrages them further.

So I bear at least half of the blame for any untoward comments that come my way. But, after bouncing off the walls blaming each other or slinging epiteths back and forth, we end up in exactly the same position we were before: A battered, dispirited, and leaderless movement desperately in need of some kind of uniting expedient. Perhaps Obama and the Democrats will, as Allah suggests, prove to be so outrageously an anathema to conservative ideals that we will be forced to put aside our differences and unite to save the country.

Don't bet on it. Obama is one smart, savvy pol with a gift for making even radical ideas sound reasonable. Unless the country falls apart economically, it is doubtful that anything the Democrats do will serve to bring the movement back together.

Therefore, we must look to ourselves and our own weaknesses and failings in order to re-establish Ronald Reagan's Big Tent and find our way out of the wilderness where our own neglect and hubris has placed us. The journey to that goal has begun. How and when we get there is anyone's guess.

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Tumbleweed central over here?

Mr. Moran everything I read in your post makes perfect sense. And obviously is a good starting point for rebuilding the GOP. Tom Davis recently had another thoughtful article that echoed many of the themes you have sounded here.

That Davis commentary posted on thNextRight garnered all of 10 discussion comments before it petered out. Clearly, not many are interested in discussing what it will actually take to fix the mess. Some people love the disease more than the cure.

I would be very surprised if this post got more than 20 comments. In fact, I probably doomed you to single digits by giving it my radical liberal seal of approval. At any rate, nice work and a great read. I will hit Frum's site soon.

and extra points for use of the word "splenetic"

and you get extra points for the first use of the word "splenetic" I have seen this year!

Looks like you may be right,

Looks like you may be right, Artigiano!   It's been here two hours and only the known liberals and the disaffected have commented. 

Which is not at all promising for a viable NextRight.  I am pro-life and support school choice but not for religious fundamentalist reasons.  I don't support the other litmus test issues enforced by the socons.  I understand their motivations for the issues they pursue and respect that they arise from deeply-held religious beliefs but that's all they are to me -- those individuals' personal religious beliefs.  I ventured to argue the gay marriage question, not because I'm gay or a gay marriage activist, but because the GOP position on it forfeits almost all gay voters and a very large number of young voters.  It was fairly swiftly pointed out that any consideration of moderating on gay marriage would anger the Religious Right and so strictly on a numbers basis, could never be considered.  Interestingly, these cautions were expressed by posters who themselves had admitted no great support for the socon position on the issue.   So I decided not to waste my time arguing any of the others.  It was clear that some here see themselves as hostage to the entire Religious Right agenda because the GOP can't afford to lose their votes.  Apparently they are more comfortable losing the majority of voters.

But in fairness to the socons I'm even more repelled by three new themes that don't seem to spring from the socon agenda.  Well, okay, maybe indirectly, in that socons tend to be found more often in small towns.  But heck, the GOP already has them.  Why go out of the way to further pander and in the process further alienate other potential voters?  I'd be interested in discussion of why these were ever-present in the GOP messaging last fall:

  • education is suspect; the educated need to be mocked as elitist
  • "small town values" are superior; by implication, those in cities lack the 'right' values
  • there is a "Real America" and the rest is "Anti-American"

I'm not asking for someone to tell me what these insulting messages were meant to convey, who they were designed to stroke, or why they were used.  I know the answers and it doesn't reflect well on the GOP.  I'd just like some insight into why a party that ever hopes to win another national election chose to use them.  Especially a party that will have to work long and hard to overcome fresh memories of incompetence, cronyism, corruption and hypocrisy.

An example:  When Rudy Guilani (Rudy Guilani!), in front of a national audience at the convention, repeatedly extolled the virtues of "small town values" with virtually no acknowledgement that 'small towns' in fact exist within cities.  There is nothing wrong with small town values but there is also nothing wrong with city values.  Did the NYC firefighters who rushed into the Towers and died there not have the 'right' values for you, Rudy?  Their "big city values" were more than admirable to me.  If those firefighters' values weren't good enough for the GOP simply because they were raised and lived in the city, why would you be shocked that cities largely abandoned you?  That went beyond tone deaf and into clanging the cymbals to chase the city-dwellers away.  It's also true for all the "real America" and "Anti-American" stupidity.  Why would a party that knew it had not a single vote to spare if it wanted to win go out of its way to gratuitously (and falsely) demean people on the basis of where they live?


Ace, lemme explain Metro NY to ya

The firemen and cops in NYC live on Staten Island, Long Island, or on the fringe of upstate NY. They are about as far from the genteel radicals of lower Manhattan as one can get while still gainfully employed within the city limits.

Massapequa and Pearl River could readily be dropped in the Midwest.  And the neighborhoods that elected Rudy in '93 were as close to mainstream America (married couples; homeowners; smalls businesspeople) as you could find in the city.

The size of the Obama win obscured this a bit, but the '04 race showed that there are many "red" counties in "blue" states and metro areas.  

That's all very interesting

That's all very interesting but I'm sure it's as obscure to those unfamiliar with the particular voting patterns of New York as it was to me.  Rudy Guilani is forever associated in the nation's mind with 9/11 and NYC.  You're suggesting that voters who don't have the time or inclination to study NY state voting pattern maps to decode the GOP messages are somehow at fault?  All you've done is document that  it was preaching to the choir.  The GOP shouldn't be having to use unfiltered national TV exposure to shore up the base. 

How do you think the college-educated twentysomething who was born, bred and still lives in Denver, and was newly-interested in politiics, heard the messages?  That person heard:  You're an elitist without values, and anti-American to boot.  And you think his reaction was, "Gee, that's me!  Sign me right up!"

No, it sounds like "your kind need not apply."  And they didn't.  You and Rush can yada, yada, yada all day long about how every Obama voter thinks he is the Messiah because somebody captured a left-wing loon saying he was going to pay for her house and car.  I know my hypothetical college-educated voter wasn't laboring under that delusion.  But you're free to labor under yours.

And give me some credit.  I know there are red counties in blue states.  I grew up in Orange County, CA, which will probably be the last county to go blue in CA.  I haven't been motivated to check voting maps (mostly because I don't have enough interest now, since I'm no longer living there) to see if it went blue in 2008.  For all I know even the OC has already flipped. 

No, but "Rudy's New York"

isn;t the NY which you associate him with.  Yes, there's a "silent majority" even on the east coast, and falling victims to stereotypes to the contrary, well, it's not my fault.

McCain did win the OC. By about 2 points. It was the only So Cal county he won. 


I wasn't referring to a

I wasn't referring to a stereotype.  I do believe that when the average American sees Rudy Guilani, he sees NYC and the days after 9/11 when Rudy was the face of the city.  Maybe the NY voting patterns are far more well-known throughout the East Coast than out west (my neck of the woods) but I'd be willing to bet my next paycheck that if I said Rudy's name and asked 50 people on the street what location they associate him with, all 50 would say NYC.  If he had been speaking at a GOP gathering in NY, it'd be perfectly understandable to laud the small town values if that's where his base of support is.  A national audience?  Not so much.

Thanks for the update on the OC.  They're still hanging in there!  My parents were active in the GOP when I was growing up and I vividly recall as a young teen standing in our living room full of their friends, watching tears stream down every face as Nixon left the White House after resigning, to begin his journey to San Clemente. Such a long time ago...

well, these are parts of NYC like midtown Manhattan




You're right, if you are on the East Coast you are more familar with the  kinds of neighborhoods you might see on The King of Queens or Saturday Night Fever

FYI, if anyone is interested, county by county maps

If anyone is interested in this further, here is a site with county by county maps.

Rudy Specifically tried...

...to make NYC like the rest of america and he was exsoriated for it.

And you hypothetical 20 something in Denver was in the tank for Obama all along and is an idiot.  The key to people like him are to keep him from voting until he's in his mid 30's with a mortgage and two kids.

I'll answer that.

The Republicans appeal to small town and suburban America because those are the parties strong areas, just as the Democrats base is in the big cities.

education is suspect; the educated need to be mocked as elitist

The Democratic party explicitly bills itself as the party of "educated elite", and sneers at the "Jesus freaks" located in "flyover country". The GOP would be stupid not to try to exploit that. The "elite" are the problem in this country. (See the current financial disaster.) Sadly that seems unlikely to change for at least another four years.

small town values" are superior; by implication those in cities lack the 'right' values

That's pretty much the case.

  • there is a "Real America" and the rest is "Anti-American"

As opposed to those who think that LA and NYC are the "real America" while Alaska and Alabama are populated by dumb hillbilies who should shut up and know their place?

I'm not asking for someone to tell me what these insulting messages were meant to convey, who they were designed to stroke, or why they were used.  I know the answers and it doesn't reflect well on the Democrats. They were intended to fire up your base of brainless bigots who you have convinced the GOP is run by religious fundamentalists and if they get too much power, we'll all be having sex in the missionary position once per week.  Congratulations, your big lie won out.

To Rick Moran, The

To Rick Moran,

The republicans abandoned the middle class. That is usually the case. The party for the rich. Now all you have to do is figure it out. 

I agree but...

I am for the most part in agreement with you. I am one of those Northeast moderate conservatives. Check out The Rockefeller Republican if you're interested in some right-center reading. However, you do seem to be insulting the "splenetics" while at the same time making the case for the big tent? Contradictory no?

I feel your frustration with certain branches of the movement, but implying that they are "intolerant, bigoted, dangerous, and ignorant" seems counter productive.

As for moving forward I would like to see conservatives standing for some positions that would atract a wide audience and that would be inline with our principles. Conservation and Energy Independence seem the strongest two.


Your point is well taken

But when I write that there are a billion Muslims in the world who are not terrorists what I get in response is not printable. Same thing when I advocate Immigration reform that includes both massively stepped up enforcement at the border with the recognition that you can't round up 12 million people and send them home.

Intolerant? Yep. Bigoted? My experience has been that this is so for many. Bigoted goes hat in hand with ignorant and as far as dangerous is concerned, let's pray someone like them never gets elected president.

Beyond all that is their belief that if you are not in agreement with them 100%, this is evidence of not being a "true" conservative. I wish I could say I was exaggerating but if you are a moderate, you have probably heard the same thing.

And as I say, I think reason doesn't work anyway. Maybe shame will.


Reason, Rick?

I've never noticed that you were very familiar with that process.

The reason this site gets ignored by conservatives, to respond to a point made up thread, is that it exists by and for people like you, and conservatives have little patience for such people. Your "next right" looks identical to the current Democratic party.

Intolerant? Bigoted? Brainless? Yes, you are. In other words, liberal.

Let me be very clear here.

Your words are worthless.

Not merely "a position I disagree with", not solely wrong, not merely baseless. They are without value, selecting shock over substance. They contribute nothing — not even personal conviction, because nobody can truly know how many accounts a troll such as you might choose to employ.

They don't have a negative impact — after all, you do see false-flag trolls, and you could indeed be a particularly motivated one — they can only be counted as random noise filling in the space between the adults talking.

Your words are worthless.


 This attitude will drive away anybody who is not already in complete agreement with you, and that won't leave you with enough people to win an election.


Centrists.  Who needs 'em? 

Gimme good ol'  Rush or Sean or Mark Levin, and a few good litmus tests!

You're mistaken about the libertarians and Palin.

All the libertarians I know loved Palin not for her ideology but for something much more important and fundamental that she represents: She's the highest ranking elected official who is solidly on the correct side of the People vs. the Political Class - the most important divide in American politics and governance in the current era.

BTW, I see no indication that Frum, David Brooks and similar types have a clue about how meaningful that divide is to the electorate. Indeed, they are very much identified with the wrong side of it. That's why they mostly have contempt for Palin - and why grass roots conservative and libertarians don't have much use for them in return.

Here, here!!!

Solid points all!

Your beloved princess is selling out

All the libertarians I know loved Palin not for her ideology but for something much more important and fundamental that she represents: She's the highest ranking elected official who is solidly on the correct side of the People vs. the Political Class - the most important divide in American politics and governance in the current era.

Are you so sure that Sarah Palin is so very different from this "political class"?

Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin wants to write a book and is looking to Robert Barnett, the same high-powered DC attorney who represented Barack Obama and both of the Clintons while they were getting their book deals.

Palin is seeking an $11 million book advance, people.com reported.

That's $3 million dollars more than Hillary Clinton received to pen her bestseller, Living History.


former bush lackeys have zero credibiliy

Why should anyone pay attention to someone who enabled the incompetence, stupidty, and bad judgements of the Bush Administration.  Frum just wants to stay relevant in politics and his way to to abandon conservative ideas and have the Republicans become the me-too big government, big spending, pandering party.

Until idiots like Furm are out of politics, there is zero hope for conservatives in the U.S.  People who are responsbile for $5 trillion debt, massive expansions of the government, and giving home loans to every illegal aliens with a stolen ID need to get out of politics permanently.

If the Repubicans want to make a comeback, they must purge the Bushites permanantly so that maybe all of the Bush Lackeys will becomeD emocrats and screw up that party as much as they have screwed up the Republicans.

21 Blackjack!

I was wrong Mr. Moran. You did get to 21 comments. Of course many of my mates here would say I have yet to be right about anything. (pun intended)

I should invite all my trolly friends to post on this site...

Since trolls get their posts promoted to the front page.

Seriously, thanks to all who had something to say. I only wish there was some way to reason with people like my friend "superdestroyer" who filled in the holes in my definition of "splenetic conservative" perfectly.

Until they change elections so that the party getting 8 million votes less than the other guy wins, I am going to have to keep promoting the idea of the "Big Tent."

Is the Brand really that important to you

Rick, you seem to believe that saving the brand name of "Republican Party" is the only thing that is important.  If the Republican Party ends up being a Democratic-lite party that ceaselessly panders to liberal blacks and Hispanics, is there really a point to save the party.

I love how moderates like you are willing to give blacks and Hispanics whatever they want to get their votes while continually spitting in the face of fiscal conservatives.  If you believe that conservatives have no where else to go and have to take crap from moderates, you are wrong.

Why don't you ask the quesiton of why moderate Repubicans are such failures. They do no attract Democratic voters.  Minorities refuse to vote for them, they have been unable to impliment a single policy and are so incoherent that they cannot explain thei political philosophy.  If moderates are incapable of atttracting any conservatie voters, they are bigger failures that the domgma conservatives.


Moderate republicans

 They aren't failures; there are moderate republicans that regularly win elections with large margins. People like Olympia Snowe for example. 

New England disproves this

Considering that New  England no longer has a Republican Representatives and that New York will soon have no Republicans representing it in Congress, I would not recommend using New England as a good example.   Failing to separate themselves from the Democrats has destroyed the Republican Party in New England.  If people want big government, big spending, and social engineering, they wil always vote for the Democrats.

New York 20 is going to be a very tough hold

for democrats--see NY 20 : Our 21st Century Saratoga by Ironman.

 A significant part of the

 A significant part of the decline of Republicans at national levels in New England is that the party no longer embraces the fiscal conservatism and social libertarianism that appeals there.  Republicans start off with a millstone of the Republican brand and the derision of their party members from other parts of the country.  

Valid points, invalid points, a bit of hot air.

Valid point: so-cons have been much slower to retool their movement and recognize that things have got to change. This is essential. I was at the March for Life, as an anecdote, and saw a Christian there trying to proselitize an Orthodox Jew. This, should, not, happen! I am a practicing and believing Christian and I'd like to see lots more people become the same, but "to everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven", and political events are the time to take our convictions and express them in ways accessible to Jews, Muslims, seculars and those of all other faiths. So I'll grant willingly that so-cons have failed on this score.

Invalid points:

1. Libertarians not liking Palin. There's a difference between "Libertarians" who want generally smaller government and "Libertines" who call themslves "fiscal conservatives" and "social moderates" but in practice are more than wiling to jack up taxes on the other guy and emphasize the social moderation a good bit more. Many Libertarians, while disagreeing with Palin's so-con stands, have a lot of respect for her limited government beliefs, in fact Reason Mag did a really flattering profile of her right after the pick as I recall.

2. You misunderstand the basic tenet of social conservatives. On about ninety percent of issues, so-cons want to be left alone. They want to let local school districts, communities  or even states, not unelected judges, to decide what level of religiosity is acceptable and what moral standards will be allowed. I, for one, think "prayer in school" decisions should be made at no higher a level than the local school board, that ten commandments monuments should be removed or left in place at the will of the local community, etc. There are two exceptions to this: abortion and (for some), gay marriage. However, the most important steps that so-cons want on each issue, overturning Roe and protecting state marriage amendments from being overturned by the courts, should logically be acceptable to Libertarians.

I think it's also an invalid point that northeastern Republicans need to immitate Democrats on social issues. Do we need to accept three hundred million tax dollars a year going to fund abortions? Anyone on the center-right ought to be able to agree that (A) abortions ought generally to be reduced and (B) you don't subsidize things you want reduced. So why can't we have northeastern Republicans who say "I'm personally pro-choice, but I actually don't think abortion is the federal government's business, cause I'm, ya know, a real Libertarian. That's why I oppose federal funding for abortions, period, end of discussion." That's social moderation I can believe in. Incidentally, the embrionic stem-cell research issue is (A) again primarily a federal funding issue I believe and (B) going to be superceded in the next couple of years as non-embrio-destructive methods come online.


The "ignorant" "bigoted" "supersticious" nonsense is a lot of hot air. FYI: hard-core so-cons like Chuck Colson and much of the Catholic political movement, as well as Sam Brownback, Mike Pence and others, backed the kind of immigration reform you (an I) support. The only vaguely so-con leader I've heard talk about gratuitously killing Muslims is Tom Tancredo. Can we just stipulate that Tancredo's an ass and move on?

Social Cons - We're here, we're queer, get used to it

Just to be sure I have this straight - social conservatives are not for "big tent" conservatism, but the people on The Next Right who complain about social conservatives are. Interesting.

And the comments - to paraphrase, "oh no, people who disagree with this post, that's what's wrong." Oh, that's what's wrong. I starting looking at this site when it started, hoping it would be more than the "No, I'm more conservative" pillow fight, and would not stray too far into the "Blame the Social Conservatives" nonsense. The strategy I like. The politics, sometimes. The action, well, too much of that action is dubious blame of those whose sole allegiance to the Right does not end with the op-ed page of the WSJ.

Here's an idea - why don't we talk about 95% of African Americans voting Democrat even in a non-Obama year? Why don't we agree "school choice good, vouchers good, unga bunga," and then find a way to unfuck the public schools which are not magically going to close? Much more relevant, much more important, not as many copouts to be had there. Many problems are everyone's problems, perhaps we address those first.

And stop heaping so much praise of Frum and some of those on Secular Right. I absolutely love some of their collective works, but again, this splintering is not "big tent," just more I-need-to-separate-from-the-other-ones snobbery that assumes anyone who disagrees with you is what drives people away from the party.

It's hard to get out of the wilderness with our heads up our asses. If you're not laying groundwork for 2010, start drafting your anti-socon articles now while we prepare to get spanked again.

"We." Hmmph.