Pete Spiliakos is a columnist for First Things.

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Remembering Conservative Reformers

From Web Exclusives

Liberals are enjoying a moment of confidence. Across the board, there is a sense that the salient political issues are evolving and that demographic shifts are weakening the center-right political coalition. It’s true that the challenges have changed, but more than ever it’s the right, not the left, which has the resources to address the problems of today. Continue Reading »

Avoiding the Identity Politics Trap

From Web Exclusives

A Mike Huckabee presidential campaign could be the Republican establishment’s nightmare. His candidacy would combine upfront social conservatism with an economic message targeted at the middle-class and struggling wage-earners rather than at the party’s lobbyist and donor elites. Unfortunately, it seems more likely that Huckabee will emerge as an ally of the establishment—though one disguised as a critic. Continue Reading »

Now Is the Time to Invest in the Future

From Web Exclusives

The recent news of GDP growth indicates that the United States has turned a corner, but that does not mean conservatives should deemphasize economic issues. We are at a good place in the business cycle, but even in this good place, problems remain, future problems are visible, and the good times won’t last forever. Continue Reading »

A Broken Immigration Debate

From Web Exclusives

In 2010, 54 percent of Americans thought our immigration system was broken. Today, that number is 74 percent. Aaron Blake of the Washington Post contends that this means “immigration reform” is winning.This seems a strange comment, because public fears about our defunct immigration system don’t guarantee better policy. We could, by a seeming lack of options, simply exacerbate all that is worst in our current immigration system. Alternatively, critics of the current system could begin the process of creating a broad-based reform coalition. Continue Reading »

Opportunity and Incentives

From Web Exclusives

President Obama’s recent actions to effectively exempt millions of unauthorized immigrants from deportation and to issue them work permits has caused frustration among many who believe that neither the precedents nor the law support the his actions. The president’s opponents have focused on what can done in the short-term to reverse his executive orders, or at least make him pay a political price. But rather than simply reacting, conservatives should learn from their experiences with Obamacare. In the short-term,, the ability of the Republican Congress to reverse the president’s executive orders or repeal Obamacare is very limited. It matters much more what President Obama’s opponents are prepared to do the next time they wield greater policymaking power. Continue Reading »

Conservative Populism and the Cory Gardner Problem

From Web Exclusives

A funny thing happened when Cory Gardner, the senator-elect from Colorado, went on Fox News Sunday: He reminded us of the extent to which he is an establishment Republican. He was hand-picked by establishment Washington Republicans, but that’s easy to forget because of the way that his campaign united Colorado’s right-of-center voters and won over much of the persuadable electorate. Gardner’s success, however, reveals problems in the establishment conservative platform and shows what it would take for a populist conservative with better policy ideas to get elected. Continue Reading »

Social Liberal Hubris

From Web Exclusives

Mark Udall’s senatorial defeat might have been the sweetest victory for social conservatism on Tuesday. He organized his campaign around the theme that Republicans were hostile to women, and that his opponents would ban contraception—and all of this with a side order of abortion extremism. Udall’s defeat by Cory Gardner (and the mockery Udall has received across the political spectrum) might indicate that the Democratic “war on women” campaign tactic has outlived its usefulness. Maybe it has, but social conservatives should be careful to distinguish between Mark Udall’s war on women campaign, and the more effective (though still overrated) war on women campaign run by Barack Obama in 2012. Continue Reading »

How to Succeed In Politics As a Businessman By Really Trying

From Web Exclusives

A certain Georgia Senate seat has a strange and revealing recent history. 2008 was the ultimate Democratic wave year, but the Georgia Senate seat remained in Republican control after a runoff election. 2014 is shaping up to be a Republican wave year, but Republicans are left hoping to retain that same Senate seat based on President Obama’s unpopularity. The Georgia Republicans have gone from being able to resist a Democratic wave to depending on a Republican wave. Much of this variance from national trends has to do with the particular weaknesses of Georgia’s businessman-turned-politician Republican candidate: David Perdue. Continue Reading »

Neither Prudence Nor Courage

From Web Exclusives

While campaigning for the Republican nomination in the Iowa senatorial race, Joni Ernst had called for the abolition of the Environmental Protection Agency. When she was called on this claim in a general election debate, Ernst’s response was a mess that both praised the federal Clean Water Act and seemed to call for state-based environmental regulation. Conservative journalist Byron York observed that Ernst was “definitely not in control of the question.” Perhaps it might be better to say that Ernst was willing to be neither an Abraham Lincoln nor a Charles Sumner. Continue Reading »