It may seem odd to give such a detailed account of an exhange between bloggers that took place a week ago, but stick with me -- these are some of the smartest conservative analysts out there, and what they're debating has major implications for the future of their movement.
The problem with this strategy is that it was counterprogramming. It undermined our core brand (where movements are all about distilling the core brand). And it not only nudged us in the direction of government action; at times it jerked us violently in that direction. Being sympathetic to the needs of seniors became a $400 billion prescription drug plan. Being more attentive to public schools meant doubling the Department of Education. New look immigration policies meant treating enforcement as an afterthought. A needed tactical response to the Clinton era became an attempted long-term redefinition of the Republican Party that nobody, right or left, really wanted. It all seemed very, very extravagant.Ruffini points out that it was the vacuum created on the left by Clinton's triangulation that led to the rise of the progressive netroots. If compassionate conservatism is a form of triangulation-from-the-right, might we expect to see a revitalized conservative grassroots in the next few years? As Ruffini puts it:
A new conservative movement would, as the gravitational pull of these things go, make the GOP more conservative. And that would mean largely undoing the Bush legacy in domestic policy.Liberals are adamant that the right not be allowed to wash its hands of the Bush legacy -- Dubya was, after all, the inheritor of decades of conservative movement-building, and to liberal eyes he looks like probably the most right-wing president in American history. Yet conservatives insist that, on the core issue of the role and size of government in the domestic sphere, Bush has plainly abandoned them. If this is the case, there may well be space on the right for a new conservative movement. But would a movement based on traditional conservative hostility to "big government" have any chance of building a majority coalition?
Labels: conservative futures