Rather than provide you a direct link to an especially provocative column by Matthew Continetti, it’s probably better for our purposes here that I refer you to Ed Kilgore’s ANNOTATIONS on the piece:
So what if the most honest self-evaluation of the Republican Party concluded “We’re screwed!”
That’s sorta the impression left by Matthew Continetti’s piece in the Weekly Standard entitled “The Double Bind.”
And the impact of his analysis, unless there’s just a collective decision to ignore it, could be significant. He is not, after all, some tweedy RINO interested in high-fives from the MSM or the opposition; he’s a stone partisan warrior (founder of the Washington Free Beacon and hagiographer of Sarah Palin) who would very much like to bring liberals weeping to their knees. He’s the sort of guy who would probably be quite happy if a one-party dictatorship could be established, or who may think the godless “elites” have already established one.
But he’s not in denial when it comes to the political dilemmas facing the Republican Party…
The most surprising thing about Continetti’s piece is that he doesn’t note (other than indirectly) the most obvious precedent for the efforts of today’s would-be “reformists:” Karl Rove’s strategy for taking a solid but slightly-submajority GOP base up a notch during George W. Bush’s first term. It was a “base-in” strategy (as opposed to the more familiar “center-out” strategy deployed most famously by Bill Clinton) that gave GOP base constituencies everything they wanted, while offering highly targeted public policy goodies to “swing” constituencies that could put the GOP over the top…None of this worked out perfectly, but Bush did get re-elected in 2004. But he and the GOP paid a big psychic price for this victory in the buried resentment of conservative activists, which eventually burst through in the wave of recriminations towards Bush and “big government conservatism” in and after 2008, when this theme became the major justification for an otherwise counter-intuitive party swing to the Right.
Continetti closes by suggesting, as is common in pleas for significant political change, that it may take some exemplary leader like Reagan (ironically) to usher in the era of the “conservative welfare state,” and convince Republicans to abandon their illusions. The ritualistic invocation of RR’s holy name in this particular cause may greatly offend his intended audience, since one of their chief illusions is that Reagan presided over a latter-day Coolidge Administration that was steering the nation towards prelapsarian innocence until the treacherous Bushes and the wily Clinton (not to mention the Kenyan socialist Obama) spoiled his legacy. But conservative denialists will have a harder time rebutting his argument that the path they are on currently leads straight to nowhere.