Pete Spiliakos is a columnist for First Things.

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Romney the Political Placebo

From Web Exclusives

Ramesh Ponnuru and Reihan Salam, two of the right’s smartest and most intellectually honest intellectuals disagree over whether Mitt Romney should run for president in 2016. Ponnuru has the better case, but, in reading both men, it becomes clear the degree to which Romney was not the reason for the GOP defeat(s) in 2012. Continue Reading »

Their Suspicious Circles—And Ours

From Web Exclusives

If you want to know why liberals had so much political trouble in the 1980s, you could do worse than read Rick Perlstein’s The Invisible Bridge. The book itself is a partisan account of politics from 1973-1976, but what stands out is Perlstein’s framing device: Reagan stole the chance of liberal critics to redefine America. Perlstein writes of a friend who hated Reagan because Continue Reading »

How to Survive Demonization

From Web Exclusives

Whether the issue is abortion or spending, a fraction of African-American, Hispanic, and young voters are on the right when it comes to policy, but voted for President Obama. These voters are immersed in a milieu where they never hear the worst of the left, or the best of the right. But there’s hope. A lifetime of attitudes can change, but not all at once. Though no national candidate will be able to change such attitudes in the few months of a presidential campaign, such change has happened before on a more local level. Continue Reading »

Conservatives’ Mixed Message on Immigration

From Web Exclusives

America has “bad-faith open borders.” We limit immigration but we enforce those limits only sporadically. Fred Bauer argues that this “is a distorted hybrid of the United States’ tradition of ordered borders and of the transnationalist aim of entirely open borders.” The distortion is real, but it is not rooted entirely in transnationalism. It is also rooted in a certain kind of American exceptionalism that has a history on the right, but that conservatives don’t talk about very much. Getting past “bad-faith open borders” will require rejecting romanticism and looking to the facts of the American present. Continue Reading »

Winning at the Supreme Court, Losing in the Court of Public Opinion

From Web Exclusives

With all the furor and dishonesty over the Supreme Court’s decisions on contraception and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, it’s a good moment to think about what kinds of structural weaknesses the center-right has in public debate and what can be done to address some of those weaknesses. The truth is we don’t speak to nearly enough people often enough. Come election time, millions of Americans are not prepared to listen to conservatives—and the fault lies not with those Americans, but with the right. Continue Reading »

Give Reagan a Rest

From Web Exclusives

Conservatives have a chance to make the country more productive and work-friendly. But they can also throw this chance away by marinating in a politics of high-earner self-interest that ignores or openly resents the rest of the population—which wouldn’t be anything new for them. Continue Reading »

No Indispensable Woman

From Web Exclusives

Ross Douthat has rightly argued that the Democratic political coalition is vulnerable, but he’s wrong to suggest Hillary Clinton is the only one who can hold it together. The success of the Democratic coalition will be determined by events that are out of the easy control of any elected official, namely the ability of center-left political elites to work together effectively, and the ability of the center-right to adjust to the realities of present-day America (to say nothing of the course of the economy and developments in foreign countries). Continue Reading »

A Tea Party for Everyone

From Web Exclusives

What will the legacy of the Tea Party be? A few Senate wins and government shutdowns? Or a whole new trajectory for our politics? We don’t know yet, but we do know this: If Tea Party activists can refashion their movement to appeal to a wider fraction of the American electorate, they might have a chance of expanding the Tea Party’s influence beyond its current limits. The alternative is for the Tea Party to remain a conservative faction subordinate to the Republican party establishment. Continue Reading »

Crony Capitalism and the Conservative Politics of Resentment

From First Thoughts

Why it is that conservatives (as distinct from libertarians) are seen as “trying to dismantle the welfare state and remove all economic regulations” when this obviously is not the case? So asks Greg Forster. He’s right that this is one of the many lines of attack from the left, but I don’t think that the biggest problem conservatives face is the sense from the public that conservatives want to get rid of the welfare state. I think that the real problem for conservatives is the idea that they are pro-rich and either ignorant or contemptuous of the priorities of the non-rich. Continue Reading »