June 28, 2009

(h/t David)

It's an ever-present meme on the Sunday shows: how will the Republican Party get back to their "rightful" place in charge of the government? Of all the problems facing the country right now, this probably ranks right up there with the federal response to Dutch Elm disease, yet it gets countless broadcast hours, over far more pressing issues.

Bush and neocon cheerleader David Brooks has a provocative solution that host David Gregory didn't notice had suspiciously leftist origins: Republicans should become populists!

GREGORY: David Brooks, how does this Republican Party of the future chart a new course. If you look back historically from Nixon to Reagan to George W. Bush. In each case, it was not only a kind of an indictment of the past, but also the charting of a new course for the future of the Republican Party.

BROOKS: Right, I take a maximalist view. I follow the British Conservative Party. They had to lose three national elections before they changed. I think this Republican Party is going to have to lose two or three national elections. So I take a long term, most pessimistic view possible. But what is the route back? It’s two things. The first thing , boring, sensible practicality. And that’s why of the potentials, Mitch Daniels, the governor of Indiana is the most sensible short term prob…answer to the Republican problems. The guy is just a good manager. You got a guy, Barack Obama, in the White House. Fantastic guy, happens to spend a lot of money. And so that would be my short term.

The long term is that they have to learn to talk to people in densely-populated parts of the country and to young people. And the answer to that is the same: They have to learn to talk the language of community and common endeavor. It’s been too much individual, profit, tax cuts. It has to be community, what we can do together, including in some cases, the government.

So the answer is to appeal to young people and urban centers by admitting that as a community, we have to take care of one another and stop focusing so much on individual profits?

David, that's called being a liberal.

It reminds me very much of something I experienced years ago. Back in the early 80s, I was invited to attend a Young Leaders of Tomorrow conference at Pepperdine University. Given its location and the names of the scheduled speakers, I should have realized that it should have been more accurately named Young Republican Leaders of Tomorrow. I was a little bit of an odd fit, and after not too subtly challenging Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf at a session (moi, a liberal agitator? Quelle suprise!) he attempted to shut me up with this little homily purported to be from Churchill:

If you are young and not liberal, you have no heart, if you are old and not conservative, you have no brain.

Harrumph! Didn't buy it then and I don't buy it now, almost 30 years later. Either you understand that we live in a society and there are responsibilities inherent in being part of that society beyond trying to prove who has the biggest phallus/weapons program, or you don't. And if you don't understand that, you have no business being a Leader of Tomorrow, young or otherwise.

And let's be honest: the Republican Party doesn't understand that. Never have and they never will. Their entire focus (and appeal) lies in that less evolved part of the brain that governs toddlers: the world revolves around you and you are entitled to whatever you want. Everyone else should be scorned and distrusted because they are trying to take what you want to have. That's been the GOP's modus operandi since the beginning.

The problem is we don't want a government run by self-centered children any longer. Not that the Democratic Party has been doing a bang-up job of governing like adults, but they are a step in the right direction.

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