Unpopularity of talk radio: Conscious effort by Democrats?
Frum: Rush Limbaugh & Obama need each other desperately, they have a commonality of interests. You need to maximize your audience, and if you can extend your stay on the program it increases your numbers.
How do you work a political party?
Frum: Big believer in political parties. Core Republican message: national security and trade.
Douthat: The Medicare arguments are a disaster for conservatives.
The Republican party will have to go in the inner city and seek African American support, but they seem afraid to go in the inner city and talk to African Americans.
Douthat: The Republican party has 2 problems, Barack Obama, and the reputation of being a party based in the white south.
Postrel: The Republicans have found typical prosecutors that are tone deaf.
Larison: The Republican party has been terrible at building coalitions and providing something for the people in exchange for their support.
How do you take power?
Frum: The Republican party is going to exhaust all alternatives, and get to what they can do. In 2010 it will not be an issue on Medicare, and will have to reach out to immigrants.
Postrel: Envisions a coalition that is not necessarily a Republican coalition.
Douthat: Agrees with Frum that there are broad questions on how to draw voters, but it’s a country of 300 million people and as long as there’s a 2-party system and there’s a possible way to draw voters. Politics is an experimental science, and so is coalition building.
Republican party, and ideas;
How do these come together;
Coalition of conservatives of the late 1970s doesn’t reflect current conservatives.
Two other issues:
Strength of the far right and how to contain it;
The political process itself.
5:15PM Virginia Postrel: Her intellectual agenda is about revitalizing liberalism. Brought incandescent lightbulb. It should not be possible for Congress to pass a law banning the incandescent lightbulb, and having it signed by a republican president. How did this happen?
Cap and trade has nothing to do with the concept of cap and trade: set a level and let consumers and business decide the best way. It means that you have a much more dynamic, decentralized pluralistic approach.
The incandescent lightbulb law represents the nadir of the conservative movement.
So what are you trying to conserve? Conservatism is not a movement with core values. Conservatism can be about conserving the status quo, particular values, institutions, and some underlying rules that allow for a plural society.
More media entrepeneurship today in a world where politics is entertainment. We as public intellectuals face a difficult question, where is this place for long, careful thinking? The challenge is how to conduct but also spread careful, analytical thoughtful research.
5:05PM Daniel Larison: As a political movement, conservatism doesn’t have much of a future.
There are many paradoxes on conservatism:
Conservatism rebels against the concentration of power and wealth, temperamental conservatism teaches that power corrupts, while the movement concentrates in acquiring political gain particularly on national security.
Nationalism vs federalism, respect towards other nations vs aggressive policies overseas.
The future of American conservatism depends on meeting these paradoxes.
The movement will continue to exist but will become increasingly irrelevant to the public unless it adapts.
4:50 David Frum: The movement known as conservatism is in a state of real crisis. Do conservatives face a change in the climate or a change in the weather?
We are living through a change in the climate, and will change the entire American political system; a change in what the debate is about.
Obama was the first Democrat to win whites with 4-yr college degrees since Lyndon Johnson. Why this enormous change?
Inflation, crime, challenge of Soviet Union, ossification of the economy, were what brought together the conservative movement, and after there was a sense of mission accomplished. The Republican is drawing more support from a smaller and smaller base.
Three possible paths:
1. Continue to draw non-poor, not college graduates, which can’t win for much longer. Fear, anger & resentment.
2. The path of becoming something like the European Christian Democratic parties. The party that was indicated by Bush-Rove strategies but that B-R didn’t deliver with their economic policies. Not Frum’s party, since Frum wants economic dynamism. The Douthat party.
3. Frum wants to reinvigorate the Jeffersonian idea of growth and economic ideas: have a relevant economic message. Focus on most urgent issues, the unsustainability of debt, and the welfare burden. Integreate environmental consciousness. Define where they stand on social issues. Need to reconnect to Republican tradition of competence and integrity, an identity the Republican party had. The party who gets things done.
4:40PM Douthat: The age of Obama good for conservatism. Many believe that Republican party lost its way by ceasing to be conservative; but he believes that the party lost its way over a variety of issues where the trend has been leftwards, including immigration trends and public opinion among the young. The age of Obama, however, has brought more conservative views to the front.
Right now there’s a resistance among Republican office holders to put conservative ideas to work in the everyday world.
The Republican party doesn’t need a single blueprint, but a variety of ideas; conservatives should look at the successful politicians in the past three decades and learn from them. All of them were willing to present themselves as engaged with ideas as to where their party should be going.
The ideas are out there, what’s lacking are politicians with the vigor to put them into action.
I’m waiting for the panel The Future of Conservatism to start. Panelists are Kevin Kruse, Ross Douthat, David Frum, Daniel Larison and Virginia Postrel; the moderators are Kevin Kruse and Julian Zelizer.
Update, Wednesday 14 October
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