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.


msezdsit 1 year, 5 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.


Jonathan Fox 1 year, 5 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: Treasury Dept's "Debt to the Penny" page


curiousd 1 year, 5 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.


bearded_gnome 1 year, 5 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.


Cait McKnelly 1 year, 5 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.


Steven Gaudreau 1 year, 5 months ago

I agree the GOP must change. First, lose the religion angle. Women want abortions. Get rid of the anti abortion crap and let women kill the fetus whenever they want. Thats a start to get some women's votes back to the GOP. Second, get a legit candidate of color. Obama won because of racism. 99% blacks voted for Obama. One has to assume the majority of blacks voted for Obama because he was black, that's racism. I assume this by a poll taken where 100% of blacks polled admitted this racist fact. Even Bill Maher said it would look bad for blacks if Obama lost after his first term because it would look like a failed experiment. Lastly, hit the ultra rich with a tax hike. It won't solve the economy issue but will get votes from independants and shut up the whiners about the rich.


voevoda 1 year, 5 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.


Trumbull 1 year, 5 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.


kenyaqueen 1 year, 5 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.


overplayedhistory 1 year, 5 months ago

One word explains the 2012 election results...Haters. Southern, strategy, Barry, and depending on racists has been marginalized by changing demographics and insulting them as free loaders will not help.


rockchalk1977 1 year, 5 months ago

Two words explain the 2012 election results... FREE STUFF. Half the voters want more government freebies and the other half are expected to pay for it through confiscatory taxes. During the campaign, Obama would not talk about the national debt or his budget deficits because he was too busy handing out election candy to his greedy base. Furthermore, Obama demonized a morally-ethically superior candidate and experienced turnaround specialist who gave 30% of his income to charity in 2011. Romney talked about fiscal responsibility and fixing bankrupt government programs, a message that society's takers did not like it. Three days after the election, the stock market is down big, many companies have announced layoffs and Fitch Ratings warns of another credit downgrade. The wrath of business will now begin at the expense of ignorant Obama voters. The three major political players (Obama, Boehner, Reid) have not changed so I expect few positive changes in the coming years. Unlike Bill Clinton's triangulation strategy, Obama will continue his division strategy because that's who he is, a Chicago union organizer and committed socialist. For now, the pendulum has swung extreme left, but it will eventually swing back right when the US economy finally collapses under the weight of government free stuff. God help us all.


overplayedhistory 1 year, 5 months ago

Conservatism should do conservatism better. Nothing conservative about government in your pants. Social conservatism has almost choked real conservatism to death. You can Blame Reagan for that.


Moneyfornothin 1 year, 5 months ago

Charles you missed it dude. Look at Big Daddy, he has successfully marketed the plan of Govt taking care of you. If conservatism is to live on it needs to take a more digestable form, in short lie like Big Daddy. Conservatives need to extoll and highlight the virtues of being independent and self sufficient to the point you do not need the Govt to make it by in life.The hoop you need to jump through however is in order to achieve indepenence working is typically the most expediewnt method. Good luck with that, you now have 4 more years to study the master so take lots of notes.


Don Brennaman 1 year, 5 months ago

"Let this loser of a president, voted in by losers, screw us into oblivion so we can take it back--" The 1% and the 99 IQers screwed us closer to oblivion than you will ever imagine. Making less than $50K should give you a clue that you are a RINO


Idiot_Majority 1 year, 5 months ago

Obama supporters said it would take another four years to fix W's f-ups. OK. Let me flip that around. It will take another four years for Obama to f-up things so bad, it may be a long, long time before another Democratic president is elected. I say, I'm OK with that. Let this loser of a president, voted in by losers, screw us into oblivion so we can take it back----take all of it back and fix it back up again.


WristTwister 1 year, 5 months ago

Krauthammer is correct. Conservatives should not compromise their values. Obama cannot deliver on his promises without running this country into a ditch. It looks like it will take an economic disaster of epic proportions to bring the citizens of the United States back to their senses. Four more years of Obama's "investments" will get us there. It ain't gonna be pretty folks.


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 5 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."


jafs 1 year, 5 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.


Fretster 1 year, 5 months ago

Charles is a complete and utter moron, and wrong on every single point here. Republicans need to just go the hell away, and a new conservative party form. You know, one that actually knows what conservative means. No more social conservative bullcrap. You want small government? Then you can't have it both ways.


tange 1 year, 5 months ago

"Republicans: No whimpering. No whining. No reinvention...."

Backbone, and fortitude, 'tho invention ever eludes you
Now don't be sad, tho' three outta three ain't had


rtwngr 1 year, 5 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.


Richard Heckler 1 year, 5 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!!!!


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