Opinion: GOP should do conservatism better

November 10, 2012


— They lose and immediately the chorus begins. Republicans must change or die. A rump party of white America, it must adapt to evolving demographics or forever be the minority.

The only part of this that is even partially true regards Hispanics. They should be a natural Republican constituency: striving immigrant community, religious, Catholic, family-oriented and socially conservative (on abortion, for example).

The principal reason they go Democratic is the issue of illegal immigrants. In securing the Republican nomination, Mitt Romney made the strategic error of (unnecessarily) going to the right of Rick Perry. Romney could never successfully tack back.

For the party in general, however, the problem is hardly structural. It requires but a single policy change: Border fence plus amnesty. Yes, amnesty. Use the word. Shock and awe — full legal normalization (just short of citizenship) in return for full border enforcement.

I’ve always been of the “enforcement first” school, with the subsequent promise of legalization. I still think it’s the better policy. But many Hispanics fear that there will be nothing beyond enforcement. So, promise amnesty right up front. Secure the border with guaranteed legalization to follow on the day the four border-state governors affirm that illegal immigration has slowed to a trickle.

Imagine Marco Rubio advancing such a policy on the road to 2016. It would transform the landscape. He’d win the Hispanic vote. Yes, win it. A problem fixable with a single policy initiative is not structural. It is solvable.

The other part of the current lament is that the Republican Party consistently trails among blacks, young people and (unmarried) women. (Republicans are plus-7 among married women.) But this is not for reasons of culture, identity or even affinity. It is because these constituencies tend to be more politically liberal — and Republicans are the conservative party.

The country doesn’t need two liberal parties. Yes, Republicans need to weed out candidates who talk like morons about rape. But this doesn’t mean the country needs two pro-choice parties either. In fact, more women are pro-life than are pro-choice. The problem here for Republicans is not policy but delicacy — speaking about culturally sensitive and philosophically complex issues with reflection and prudence.

Additionally, warn the doomsayers, Republicans must change not just ethnically but ideologically. Back to the center. Moderation above all!

More nonsense. Tuesday’s exit polls showed that by an eight-point margin (51-43), Americans believe that government does too much. And Republicans are the party of smaller government. Moreover, onrushing economic exigencies — crushing debt, unsustainable entitlements — will make the argument for smaller government increasingly unassailable.

So, why give it up? Republicans lost the election not because they advanced a bad argument but because they advanced a good argument not well enough. Romney ran a solid campaign, but he is by nature a Northeastern moderate. He sincerely adopted the new conservatism but still spoke it as a second language.

More Ford ‘76 than Reagan ‘80, Romney is a transitional figure, both generationally and ideologically. Behind him, the party has an extraordinarily strong bench. In Congress — Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio, Kelly Ayotte, (the incoming) Ted Cruz and others. And the governors — Bobby Jindal, Scott Walker, Nikki Haley, plus former governor Jeb Bush and the soon retiring Mitch Daniels. (Chris Christie is currently in rehab.)

They were all either a little too young or just not personally prepared to run in 2012. No longer. There may not be a Reagan among them, but this generation of rising leaders is philosophically rooted and politically fluent in the new constitutional conservatism.

Ignore the trimmers. There’s no need for radical change. The other party thinks it owns the demographic future — counter that in one stroke by fixing the Latino problem. Do not, however, abandon the party’s philosophical anchor. In a world where European social democracy is imploding before our eyes, the party of smaller, more modernized government owns the ideological future.

Romney is a good man who made the best argument he could, and nearly won. He would have made a superb chief executive, but he (like the Clinton machine) could not match Barack Obama in the darker arts of public persuasion.

The answer to Romney’s failure is not retreat, not aping the Democrats’ patchwork pandering. It is to make the case for restrained, rationalized and reformed government in stark contradistinction to Obama’s increasingly unsustainable big-spending, big-government paternalism.

Republicans: No whimpering. No whining. No reinvention when none is needed. Do conservatism, but do it better. There’s a whole generation of leaders ready to do just that.

— Charles Krauthammer is a columnist for Washington Post Writers Group.


Richard Heckler 5 years, 6 months ago

Charles is a member to a party of ultra conservative right wing group that are posing as republicans. Now that they came up short on their billions of $$$$ investment in lies and corruption suddenly they trying to portray themselves as willing to cooperate. ANOTHER BIG LIE true to form.

The GOP is dead simple as that. News estimated 3 million republicans did not vote. There were no republicans on the ballots although I'm sure many stepped up and voted for Obama.

Mitch McConnell is still out to ruin the democrats as is his buddy Boehner. Ultra Conservatives first America last is their claim to fame. Which is anti American across the board. Sam Brownback is their water boy here in Kansas which is of course spells wreckanomics to the extreme( which may be infecting some on the city commission and in city hall).

Of course I would love to see Charles K's USA global military domination exercise known as PNAC be ripped of it's funding. Charles K endorsed this document along side some well known ultra conservatives names such as Cheney,Jeb Bush,GW Bush,Vin Weber and many others including Bill Bennett.

Bill Bennett and the Bush boys own the K-12 virtual school program which is odd and perhaps risky to public education. After all these are some of the loudest voices against public education BUT will do well should public education completely fold. Bennett ,Bush and Bush will rake in trillions of tax dollars under the voucher system. Why should OUR tax dollars support this nonsense in which Charles K supports?

"Romney is a transitional figure, both generationally and ideologically. Behind him, the party has an extraordinarily strong bench. In Congress — Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio, Kelly Ayotte, (the incoming) Ted Cruz and others. And the governors — Bobby Jindal, Scott Walker, Nikki Haley, plus former governor Jeb Bush and the soon retiring Mitch Daniels. (Chris Christie is currently in rehab.)"

MORE ultra conservatives are named here that support the Global War Doctrine and the demise of public education.

Charles K cannot be trusted!!!!

rtwngr 5 years, 6 months ago

It's okay, Merrill, we're going to let Barack Obama wreck this ship and then we'll fix it when he's done.

jafs 5 years, 6 months ago

Oh good.

Does that mean that R in Congress will stop obstructing his efforts?

Imagine if they did that, and things got better - what would they do then?

SnakeFist 5 years, 6 months ago

I agree. Modern social conservatism is inherently contradictory in that it advocates smaller government and more individual liberty while at the same time wanting to legislate its own brand of morality. Social conservatives don't want to be told what to do, but are hypocritically happy to tell others what to do.

jafs 5 years, 6 months ago

This reminds me somehow of parents who are strict with their kids.

When the kids rebel, the parents inevitably think the right response is to get even stricter.

Katara 5 years, 6 months ago

Well, it really depends on the kid. Some rebel because they need and want more restrictions and others rebel because they have too many restrictions. There really isn't just one reason.

jafs 5 years, 6 months ago

If they're not unduly restricted, what would they rebel against?

And, I was talking of parents who are strict to begin with. I remember Carroll O'Connor (Archie Bunker) talking about how he did everything to help his son, including throwing him out of the house when he found out he was smoking marijuana.

Sadly, his son wound up dying.

I'm sure he thought he was doing the right thing, but it looks to me as if he could have done a lot of other things, not in the "throw him out of the house" direction, that might have been a lot more helpful.

Of course, children and parenting are complex issues.

Katara 5 years, 6 months ago

Yes, children and parenting are complex issues.

Some children need more rules and structure than others. They act out to get that by rebelling against what they see as parental neglect. They keep upping the behavior until they get the attention they desire/or need. You see that behavior here on this forum by the constantly returning trolls. It is a belief that negative attention is better than no attention.

Some children flourish in an unrestricted environment. Rules bog them down and they rebel against that.

The story about Carroll OConnor really doesn't demonstrate anything. Tough love works for some. Supportive environments work for others. YMMV.

jafs 5 years, 6 months ago

I believe all children need structure, and attention. I also believe that positive attention should far outweigh negative attention. If parents aren't providing healthy structure and positive attention, and the kids "act out" and then get negative attention, that sounds unhealthy and like a mistake on the parents' part.

It makes no sense at all to me to throw one's child out of the house because they're smoking pot.

And, I think my original point is still valid - strict parents generally just up the ante when there are problems - somehow they can't see the possibility that their strictness is causing some of those, and that they would be better off dialing it down.

Generally speaking, I believe that supportive environments are the best for all kids, and generally for all people.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 6 months ago

I recall my childhood, in a house that was neither overly strict nor was it particularly supportive. I'd say my parents muddled along as best they could, making their fair share of mistakes, but generally being good parents. But the kids, well, there were 5 of us. And we reacted in five different ways. Same house, same rules, some support, same strictness. Five different outcomes. Yes, children and parenting are complex issues.

jafs 5 years, 6 months ago

Well, there's the genesis of your "let's just all muddle along" philosophy then, huh?

There's no possible way that your parents had the same relationship with all 5 kids. In my upbringing, I only had one sibling, but our relationships with our parents were quite different, in a number of ways.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 6 months ago

Maybe so, your analysis about the genesis of my "muddling along" philosophy might be spot on. Then again, any social scientist will tell you that for any experiment, where results are to be considered reliable, all variables will have to be accounted for. However, when the variables are too numerous, or so complex that they can't be controlled, then any result, ANY result, should be looked at skeptically. This would be true for a family with many personalities, elections with millions of voters each sending their own message, or countries with multiple groups each with their own agendas that may or may not even be known.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 6 months ago

Hey, Rush Limbaugh: 'Starting an Abortion Industry' Won't Win You Female Voters by Matt Taibbi



"There's been a lot of hand-wringing among conservatives of the Rush/Hannity (and Krauthammer) school in the last few days, a lot of concern about this outreach question, and honestly, the tone of the discussion is beginning to sound like the last days of a failed 1950s marriage. The husband who's gone all day at work comes home and throws his hands up in the air in mock frustration: what do you want from me, another Cadillac? Another fur coat? I just got you new shoes last week!

And the wife, who's loved this man for 20 years despite his abject stupidity, just sighs. All she wants her husband to do is listen to her, or take a day off work sometime and take her for a drive in the country, or make some spontaneous show of affection, maybe popping home for lunch like in the old days – just some evidence that he's even faintly aware of what's going on in her head. But when they try to talk it out, things just get worse, because in his very manner of asking her what's wrong, all hubby does is reveal that he thinks of his wife entirely as a nagging, financial parasite who's always on his ass about something."

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 6 months ago

"Obama cannot deliver on his promises without running this country into a ditch."

BushCo already drove us into the ditch. The rest of the Republican party seems perfectly happy to stay there. For them, the task at hand is figuring out how to convince voters that the ditch is a good place to be.

jafs 5 years, 6 months ago

No, they just have to be able to convince folks that it's Obama and the D's fault.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 6 months ago

Yea, I probably should have said that they merely need to convince voters that their obstructionism that keeps us in the ditch is a good policy.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 6 months ago

No, the economic state we're in is entirely the result of the previous 30 years of trickle-down economics, and while it trashed the economy for most folks, it had exactly the intended result-- a massive transference of wealth from the middle class to the wealthiest 1%, and even more concentrated in the wealthiest .01%. BushCo's stepping on the gas pedal for their eight years was the final straw.

And very little of the increased spending since Obama came into office was stimulus spending-- the greatest percentage was for things like unemployment insurance, foodstamps and other programs that are automatically triggered when unemployment skyrockets. Now, you might believe that those programs shouldn't exist, but it comes with a high cost-- millions of hungry people thrown out onto the streets-- think 1932.

jafs 5 years, 6 months ago

Unless R in Congress stop obstructing, then the results of the next 4 years will be largely of their doing.

headdoctor 5 years, 6 months ago

Why in the world do you and several other posters here assume that everyone else on this board is a Liberal? Sorry to inform you that just disagreeing with your posts does not make that poster a Liberal.

SnakeFist 5 years, 6 months ago

And you think Romney would have been able to deliver on his promises, including energy independence in five years, twelve million new jobs in his first term, and cutting taxes and the deficit without a net cut spending? At least the democrats raise taxes to partially cover their increased spending; the republicans cut taxes while increasing spending.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 6 months ago

Actually, many economists of various ideological persuasions think that 12 million jobs will be created over the next 4 years regardless of who might be president simply because the business cycle will swing that direction.

SnakeFist 5 years, 6 months ago

You're right, I've heard (and believe) that too. I simply meant that Romney himself had no plan as to how to create those jobs other than to hope it happens.

Katara 5 years, 6 months ago

It is funny how people who self-identify as conservative continue to insult the populace.

Because the best way to convince someone to accept your ideas and work to put them in place is to call the person stupid.

Katara 5 years, 6 months ago

Yes and you wagered that Romney would win the presidency so there's that.

jafs 5 years, 6 months ago

Only if R in Congress stop obstructing.

Why don't you guys give the D and Obama all the power, and let them actually do what they want to do? Then, the results will belong to them, and if they're bad, I'll be the first one to say so.

beatrice 5 years, 6 months ago

Miserable much? hahaha

Don't worry, you still have hate radio to sympathize with.

Obama won, hahaha, Obama won.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 6 months ago

No need to report it-- you're pretty obvious (but soon to become less so.)

Trumbull 5 years, 6 months ago

Behghazi? Even the Republicans dropped this after the 2nd debate. Then the timeline came out a couple of weeks ago. Not much conspiracy there. I suppose this might drag on a little bit like the birther issue. Maybe even that will come back again.

beatrice 5 years, 6 months ago

Rockchalk1977, how many times did you claim Romney was going to win? 100? 1000? And you were wrong every single time -- hahahaha.


Nice to see you finally crawl out from under your covers to face the music. hahahaha

Keep running with this attitude of demonizing the winners. It works oh so well for extremist Republicans. hahahaha

Oh, and one more thing while I am rubbing it in -- I was right in my predictions! How many times did you say you were looking forward to making me eat my words come Nov. 7? hahahaha

Welcome back. Mitt Romney lost bigtime. At least you have your hate of the winners to cling to.

headdoctor 5 years, 6 months ago

Guess you fancy yourself rockchalk1977 and Ted Nugent's twin. Complete fail.

kenyaqueen 5 years, 6 months ago

Haters got a dose of their own medecine. How long have minorities been kept down? Not much fun on the losing end is it. When Barack rebuilds the middle class and the rich finally start paying their fair share it is going to be alot more colorful in the middle.

Trumbull 5 years, 6 months ago

How about not playing chicken with the United States of America's credit rating as they did during the debt ceiling crisis? How about not calling almost every type of assistance Socialism? How about considering even a gradual transformation into renewable energy? How about having a desire to do something about rising health care and insurance costs? How about a desire to protect American jobs from being outsourced and undercut by cheap overseas labor? How about a fairer tax approach for middle and lower income households? How about investing in America's infrastructure and education....instead of calling this Socialism?

Can't beleive this writer sees the biggest problem as an inability to capture the hispanic vote.

voevoda 5 years, 6 months ago

Does Krauthammer really believe that all the Republicans need do to get the Hispanic vote is agree to amnesty for illegal immigrants? If so, he is just deluding himself. Why should he think that Hispanics will vote more heavily Republican than other Roman Catholics? Or that Hispanics are necessarily Roman Catholic? Why should Hispanics vote more heavily Republican than other "family-oriented" groups, such as Jews and Muslims? Or African-Americans, who tend to be very family-oriented, even if their families quite often diverge from the nuclear type that Republicans like to pretend is still the majority? Why should Hispanics overlook the overtly prejudicial policies Republicans have championed, such as voter suppression, prohibitions on use of Spanish, preventing the offering of ethnic studies courses, etc.? Why should Hispanics favor a party that would eliminate programs to help the poor?

Of course, Krauthammer is just plain wrong in his assertion that a fence would put an end to the illegal immigrant problem. Relatively few illegal immigrants enter the US that way. Most illegals entered the US legally, and then overstayed their visas.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 6 months ago

That's ridiculous-- if any of the current conservative blacks would ever get the Republican nomination (pretty much impossible,) they'd be lucky to get 1/3 of the black vote-- roughly equal to the 1/3 of white folks who voted for Romney simply because he isn't black.

Katara 5 years, 6 months ago

LarryNative's post is exactly why the GOP will continue to implode.

Carol Bowen 5 years, 6 months ago

The underlying problem with the GOP is a lack of principles. If it actually represented people with core values, it might be a stronger party. Strategies like fill-the-seats-with-Republicans-regardless-of_their-track-record for the sake of power is a lost cause. As long as John Boehner and Mitch McMonnell think that way, nothing productive will happen.They are too concerned about power instead of the people. They've alienated the populace.

Searching for a black candidate is a superficial attempt to regain power. The GOP has to do some deeper introspection.

beatrice 5 years, 6 months ago

Mitt Romney carried the white male vote -- what does that mean? Is every vote he received from someone with his skin color a vote for racism? What about the Mormon vote? 99% of Mormons voted for Romney, so does this mean they are bigoted against traditional Christians?

Had black votes for Obama been based on hatred for whites or a sense of racial superiority (the meaning of racism) then you would have a point. However, that is not the case here, which means you have no point.

I do find it interesting that those who are quick to say any criticism of Obama is met with calls of racism are just as quick to call racism on supporters of Obama.

JayCat_67 5 years, 6 months ago

Oh, your attempt at sarcasm is so cute.

Cait McKnelly 5 years, 6 months ago

Look at this slide show called "The Faces of Defeat". There is a ton of information in it. Notice the people in the photos; old white guys; fat, rich white guys; trophy wives; privileged yuppies with useless degrees from expensive colleges that are ticked off that they can't find a job and buy their own condo. Most notably absent? Not a single black or Latino person among them. I saw one..ONE..Asian. Other than that, not a single person of color. The white is just about blinding. In fact, if I didn't know any better I'd think it was Sunday morning and I was in a Southern Baptist church. Even more telling? You can see they didn't EXPECT to lose. Their lives are so privileged that the very IDEA that they could be denied what they want is beyond their comprehension. Sweet Jesus, no wonder they lost.

bearded_gnome 5 years, 6 months ago

calm down caity, obama didn't win by much, and Romney wasn't a very strong conservative indeed.
he had fewer republican votes than McCain, that's saying something. Obama's vote was way down oo. your "faces of defeat" is cherry picking and racist in and of itself, shame on you.

the upper class overwhelmingly chose mitt, but note: the middle class vote overwhelmingly voted for Mitt too. only the poor made another in their long line of poor choices in voting for obama. voting for a dietf constant feeding of cotten candy gives you diabetesquickly.
they should'e chosen the beef stew for a low tax and higher growth america.

now instead, we are looking at likely another soon recession/fullout depression, even debt collapse possible. the fiscal cliff is far less likely to get resolved.
layoffs are rampant because obamacare is being shoved down the throats of amerika. crucifying regulations will not be fixed but worsened.

energy will get more expensive.

yep, a very bad health choice made by the poor.

beatrice 5 years, 6 months ago

Obamacare is not being shoved down America's throat. Romney made it very clear he would do everything to eliminate Obamacare, and America said "No thanks Mitt."

It is a shame so many think democracy only works when their candidate wins.

Bearded, it is your time to say, "I wanted Romney, but America disagreed. I hope I am wrong in my views and that Obama does right by the country." Yes, it is time for that. Life is too short to spend it being bitter.

curiousd 5 years, 6 months ago

I have a different problem with the Republican party, a problem mentioned nowhere else in this thread.

Absolutely, human caused climate change is real. Absolutely, it is going to become a threat way beyond anything else discussed here. Main stream science is correct. The misinformation campaign funded by folks like the Heartland Institute is doing incalculable harm. The first place the climate change problem will hit in such a way as to cause ongoing disaster is in American Midwest agriculture. Kansas, here it comes.

The Republican party has intitutionalized stupidity about science as a requirement for public office, trying to form the world's first "Stupidocracy". Kansas will learn full well about the folly of this approach in the next decade or so.

Cait McKnelly 5 years, 6 months ago

Given the effects of the drought last summer, I'd say it's already come.
Most people on this forum know that I very recently moved from Kansas (where I lived most of my life) to SE Tennessee on the eastern side of the Appalachian mountains. (Literally. I live at the base of Lookout Mountain. I walk out my front door and it smacks me in the face.) In mid October, people here woke up and walked out their front doors into something they had never seen before; a strange haze hanging over the Tennessee Valley. Phone calls to local meteorologists sent them scrambling to NOAA and we got an answer. It was dust. Specifically, dust from the Midwest picked up by the jet stream, carried eastward across the mountains and dumped on us. There were a small handful of people old enough to have seen it before. From the Dust Bowl days of the Depression.

Trumbull 5 years, 6 months ago

Sadly, the dustbowl was largely created by man's farming practices and lack of soil conservation. It is important to recall this and remember it. It is an example that human activity can impact our environment. We forget these at our own peril...or atleast the peril of future generations.

Jonathan Fox 5 years, 6 months ago

Gee whiz, since when does having only 48% of the country mean that the party is done and needs radical change. All it really would have taken was at least trying to take some of the young vote. With 50% of college graduates not getting jobs, highest student debt in history, and record spending that this generation will inherit. Even if we cut 100% of military spending we would still only reduce the debt by a not so big fraction since social spending pretty far exceeds military spending.

The voter turnout this year was dismal compared to 2008, people are only happy with Obama because Romney was the best the Republicans can come up with. 10 million fewer people voted for Obama than in 2008 while only 3 million fewer republicans voted for Romney than McCain in 2008.

In an election where many people decide their vote based on big bird, binders of women, and gaffes made by candidates, Romney isn't going to win over people who vote based on gut feelings as apposed to facts like 1 in 5 of americans on food stamps which is only a portion of the $60,000 dollars spent per household under the poverty line, record spending and debt that equals about $52,000 dollars for every man, woman and child in America, and only 85% literacy above 3rd grade level in america... This is a lot of people who aren't going to be getting the few thousand "green" jobs Obama is creating.

Stop quoting political commentators and pundits that are nothing except entertainers as if they represent the views of anyone but themselves if even that.

Sources: http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/over-60000-welfare-spentper-household-poverty_657889.html Treasury Dept's "Debt to the Penny" page

Trumbull 5 years, 6 months ago

" Even if we cut 100% of military spending we would still only reduce the debt by a not so big fraction since social spending pretty far exceeds military spending."

This is not true. Defense spending is approx 24% of the federal budget. The attached link has some info and a chart.


beatrice 5 years, 6 months ago

The largest expense is defense spending. It is a shame people just blatantly lie to support their views.

Trumbull 5 years, 6 months ago

I'm thinkin he believes it. Social Security, Medicare, and Defense are the biggest slices of the federal budget. And the three things the tea party does not want to cut.

jafs 5 years, 6 months ago

SS, Medicare and Medicaid combined are much more than defense.

msezdsit 5 years, 6 months ago

Brilliant once again old krauthsty. You just keep on preaching more of what lost this election and we can rest at ease knowing that the repugs will lose the next elections as well. Fox is beating this old tired drum too and hopefully it will finally result in their downfall as well. keep on keeping on all you tired old overweight white guys. Your gig is up.

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