Wednesday, October 15

Future of the Republican party, cont.

Douthat again:
The Republican Party will be a populist party going forward, or it won't be a party at all. But the more populist it becomes - the more figures like Palin and Mike Huckabee and Tim Pawlenty replace the blue-blazer Republicans of yore - the more it needs an elite capable of preventing it from spinning away into anti-intellectualism, hidebound dogmatism, and pure folly. Yes, sometimes these elites are snobbish and insidery, overly impressed with credentials, overly concerned about what their liberal pals think, overly willing to treat their party's base as an embarrassment. Sometimes the base is right and the elites are wrong. Sometimes you need a better class of elite entirely. But you still need them, and you need candidates who listen to them.

So you might think that David Brooks is too taken with Barack Obama's facility for Reinhold Niebuhr-related jaw-jaw, and too quick to attack conservatives who don't share his views on immigration, say, or the bailout. But if you want Sarah Palin as your standard-bearer, you need a Brooks, or someone like him, at the table when her speeches are being written and her policy positions are being hashed out. You need elites, and you especially need elites who work and live outside the conservative cocoon, and who have a sense of how to talk to people who aren't already persuaded that a vote for Obama is a vote for socialism and surrender. The more populist your party, in fact, the smarter it needs to get - at wooing swing voters, and talking intelligently about policy questions, and yes, even at charming the liberal media - because you know the elites on the other side won't cut it any slack. And a populist party that makes a lot of its elites feel unwelcome - that accuses them of betraying the team when they offer criticisms, and says "good riddance" when they head for the exits - is a party without much of a future at all.

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