On one hand, some thinkers seem to believe conservatism has essentially lost the battle of ideas, and thus, to survive, conservatives must seek to support a more conservative brand of liberalism. They have ceded the war, and, in essence, are hoping to negotiate the best deal possible.
On the other hand, some conservatives fail to accept the world has changed. They choose to bury their heads in the sand, and continue partying like it's 1999. These conservatives pose almost as big a danger as the former group.
... Neither group has the answer.
One thing we probably can all agree on is that to win elections again, the GOP must embrace the Internet and technology. As such, I have joined in an effort to encourage the next GOP Chairman to modernize the party and to embrace technology.
But tactics are not enough. To win the future, conservatives must -- in my opinion -- also find ways to make our timeless classical liberal principles relevant to the 21st century. This, in my estimation, is the most important intellectual discussion we can engage in for the next months (or possibly years). And since we are in the brainstorming phase of this process, let me throw it open to you: If we were creating a new contract with America, what 10 bullet points would you include?
Following are a few of my thoughts...
- The GOP must become the Party of science and math. This might include new energy ideas, a major investment in educating our children to compete with China in science and math, space exploration, etc.
- The GOP simply cannot continue to lose the Hispanic vote to the degree we lost it in 2008. I am not suggesting we support Amnesty. Instead, I am making a factual statement based on math.
- The GOP must embrace the future. Part of this means accepting that some industries and jobs will go away as high-tech jobs and industries arise. We must develop smart ideas regarding how workers can be re-trained and given the technological information to improve their lives -- not just survive the changes.
These are just a few rough ideas, of course. My hope and expectation is that this conversation will take place on every conservative blog -- and in every conservative think tank -- for the next several months.
Who knows? Maybe some of the ideas that we think of right here at Townhall will one day be implemented...
(Note: Obviously, these initiatives must be implemented in a manner which rewards success and utilizes the competitive advantage that a Free Market economy gives this nation over other countries.)
Now, a word about the state of the party and the conservative movement (two separate entities which occasionally overlap): In many ways we are in better shape than we were when Goldwater lost in 1964. At that time, we had no effective think tanks; the notion that we could have conservatives in the media was nonexistent, etc. It would be silly to long for those days again.
However, in 1964 we did have a coherent intellectual belief system -- something we are lacking today. This, of course, must be corrected.
It would be naive to believe that any one person can solve this problem. The rise of the conservative movement relied on intellectuals like F.A. Hayek and Buckley, activists like Weyrich and Schlafly, and politicians like Goldwater and Reagan. As such, anyone looking for a single leader, be it Jindal or Palin -- or someone else -- to lead us to the "promised land" would be quixotic.
Instead, this effort will require all of us. We cannot postpone this discussion in hopes a savior will rise to lead us toward something we must find ourselves.
Leaders will emerge; they always do. The question is will we be ready?
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