Somewhere in that mix are the contours of a platform that is contemporary and conservative and for which there is arguably a broader demographic and geographic appeal. It should not include (for there is no political appetite for these things, and they are unattainable and/or unwise from a policy standpoint): opposition to gay rights; large tax cuts for the rich; protectionism; expelling women from combat in a volunteer army; rooting gays out of the military; obsessing over bathroom assignments; fixating on local ordinances about wedding services; keeping the status quo on entitlements; cutting out (as opposed to reforming) the safety net; never, ever raising taxes on anyone; and mass deportation.
What follows will be different from 1980s conservatism because we are more than three decades removed from Ronald Reagan. Our problems are different — stagnant wages, resurgent and varied enemies, the withering of communal organizations, crumbling infrastructure. We have recognized that the old solutions — a rising tide lifts all boats (not if you have no skills) — are insufficient. However, Republicans should not sell snake oil. Telling working-class whites that the problem is immigrants is a lie. The economic data overwhelmingly show that immigration spurs growth, creates jobs and aids innovation, and no amount of junk statistics from zero-population Malthusians is going to change this. (There are solutions for the tiny segment of the workforce, usually the last wave of immigrants, that might be adversely affected.) Telling workers that millions of jobs went to China is a lie, too. The problems are real, and the solutions must be real as well. We need the world’s best and brightest workers, a humane society and methods to control borders and prevent visa overstays.
Along with all of this, conservatives have to end their intellectual isolation and self-delusions. They need to stop pretending that climate change is not occurring (the extent and the proposed solutions can be rationally discussed) or imagining that there is a market for pre-New-Deal-size government. Conservatives must end their infatuation with phony news, crank conspiracy theories, demonization of well-meaning leaders and mean rhetoric. It’s time to grow up, turn off Sean Hannity, get off toxic social media and start learning about the world as it is. (Read a book authored by someone without a talk show, spend time with non-Republicans, take an online course in economics.) Confirmation bias has become pathological.
Tuesday, May 10, 2016
John Quiggin has posted quotes from Jennifer Rubin (herself a conservative) writing at the Washington Post about the need for conservative politics in the US to reform itself, and I have to agree with JQ that they are very, very sensible: