Daniel Larison kindly linked to my post on the Republican (really center-right), communications problem. Larison continues to say “What Spiliakos overlooks is that the GOP won’t benefit from explaining their views more intelligibly so long as those views continue to be associated for good reason with the disastrous tenure of the previous administration.” While I agree with the spirit of that comment, I’m also somewhat more optimistic that the Republicans can (notice I said can) offer an attractive policy agenda. As Ross Douthat wrote today, the last four years have produced enough policy proposals for several Republican Party agendas. The center-right wonks have been at work. There are policy models in being. The GOP (and the center-right generally) have no such things when it comes to communicating to those who haven’t already bought into the narrative. That is going to be a tougher challenge.
But just because thought-out alternative policies exist doesn’t mean the Republicans are going to embrace them. First we had the post-election collapse on amnesty. Now William Kristol is arguing that the Republicans should agree to raise marginal tax rates on millionaires to stick it to rich Obama supporters. Panic and bitterness are probably not the best way to adjust the Republican Party’s policy agenda. I think that some of the fright and despair that resulted from Obama’s reelection is healthy. The Right is having the rethink that should have started four years ago. Better late than never, but the knowledge of the lateness is getting people carried away. We need to start thinking right now, but we also have to think things through. Let’s have this meeting first. You should avoid, whenever possible, making major life decisions while you are still dizzy from a knock on the head. And we should carefully read the folks Douthat links to.