Conservative Outrage Won't Work

Peter Hellman, in a review of by Bryan Burrough's Days of Rage, outlines how the frustrations of the 60s gave way to the violent extremism of the 70s. The violence of radical leftist protesters discredited their movement, contributing to the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980. Conservatives won . . . . Continue Reading »

Conservatives and Low-Skilled Workers

People in the Republican establishment have been suggesting that conservatives can either try to appeal to working-class whites by supporting limits to future immigration levels, or they can try to appeal to Hispanics by seeking to increase future immigration levels. The truth is that conservatives have never had to make this choice. In 2012, Republicans chose to alienate both working-class whites and Hispanics. In the future, conservatives should try to appeal to both groups by focusing on the economic priorities of those groups rather than ethnic gamesmanship.In the 2012 campaign, Romney's combination of economic priorities and immigration messaging proved especially toxic. On immigration, Romney advocated no amnesty and hoped that current unauthorized immigrants would self-deport. For Hispanics (and possibly even for Asians—among whom Romney did even worse than among Hispanics), the message was that Romney’s love for business owners was exceeded only by contempt for immigrants (legal and illegal). Continue Reading »

Irving Kristol's God

Having long been regarded as the godfather of neoconservatism, Irving Kristol is well known for his political writings. Less well known are his essays on religion. And yet, the more one reads of his work, the more apparent it becomes that this is in some sense the wrong way around. Though Kristol . . . . Continue Reading »

Conservative Con Artistry

A breach has opened between the Republican party’s business interests and the party’s activists. It has always existed, of course, but not so widely as now. While the issue of immigration might be the most significant policy consideration that divides them, there is also a very important institutional divide. The Republican business establishment, from K Street down to the local Chamber of Commerce, has functioning institutions, while the party’s populists do not. This is why conservati Continue Reading »

Christian and Countercultural

Over the past decade, especially in the struggle over same-sex marriage, some of my friends and allies among social and religious conservatives have called me a defeatist for my culture-war pessimism. I believe that pessimism today is simply realism, and that it is better for us to retreat . . . . Continue Reading »

Opportunity and Incentives

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

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 »

Taking the Long Way

And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God did not lead them through the land of the Philistines, even though it was nearer. —Exodus 13:17 For many decades now, America’s political life has been divided between people who call themselves “conservatives” and people . . . . Continue Reading »

A Pessimistic Case for Hope

Ten years ago this fall, it seemed for a moment like social conservatives might be ascendant in our politics. Immediately after the 2004 election, some analysts on the right and left alike said George W. Bush’s reelection signaled a rising tide of “values voters” who would yield an enduring nationwide advantage for Republicans on social issues. Continue Reading »