William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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THREE MORNINGS AFTER – AT 8:48 A.M. ET:  The initial shock of the election is rapidly wearing off, and the debate is on within the Republican Party over the way forward.  Please note that the discussion is becoming thoughtful, and often based on a solid reading of the increasing data coming out about the election.

Indeed, the intellectual ferment in American politics over the last 40 years has been on the right, not on the left, which is on intellectual life support.  The 2012 Democratic "arguments," if you can dignify them with that term, were essentially no different from their arguments in 1972. 

We will be presenting to our readers some of the well-spoken arguments put forward on the direction we should be taking.  Charles Krauthammer, one of the most brilliant of the conservative writers today, is arguing against a panicked, fast-talking change in direction:

...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.

COMMENT:   Very well argued, whether you agree with Krauthammer or not.  He makes an excellent point about some constituencies being naturally liberal.  Winston Churchill once said that a 20-year-old who wasn't liberal had no heart, whereas a 30-year-old who wasn't conservative had no head.

Similarly with the so-called "women's vote."  We are constantly reminded that unmarried women tend to vote liberal, whereas married women tend to vote conservative.  But, by definition, unmarried women also tend to be younger, on average, and therefore part of a traditionally liberal group.

Krauthammer is also wise in arguing that Republicans must speak with reflection and prudence.  Many of the smartest voices I've heard in the past few days have spoken about a certain "tone" in the party, and they are right.  The Dems, for cynical reasons, have learned to speak in culturally respectful terms.  We must weed out those potential candidates, like the dimwitted Senate candidates in Missouri and Indiana, who cannot make the "respect" cut.

November 9,  2012