Soren Dayton says the "Republican Party is at a transitional point" - that the Right's "interest groups have become profoundly transactional and trivial in scope" and that we are heading for a significant reorientation.
I agree. In many ways, the Right has lost its logic. When tax rates were up to 70%, and the unintended consequences of the New Deal, Great Society programs and other social engineering policies were wreaking havoc across the economy, there was plenty of motivating energy for the Right to create and mobilize a Movement. But when, during a period of full employment and general growth, you're debating, say, whether tax rates should be 39.6% or 35.6%...well, you've got a less compelling raison d'etre for your Movement.
Meanwhile, Republicans have pursued the Iron Law of Oligarchy: it is the tendency of organization to devolve power to smaller groups of people, due to the "technical indispensability of leadership, the tendency of the leaders to organize themselves and to consolidate their interests". It's pretty basic public choice theory. Much of the DC-based infrastructure on the Right - Republican politicians, the advocacy organizations and non-profits, the massive, campaign-oriented fundraising machines that spring up in each cycle - has become the entrenched bureaucracy seeking its own promulgation.
That is not a sustainable state of affairs. The Republican Party isn't serving the Right, and the Right isn't likely to continue serving the Republican Party.
From time to time, when it becomes necessary to throw off such entrenched politicians, we must provide new guards to ensure our future security. What those new guards may be, nobody knows. But I hope The Next Right will be a useful place to discuss what the Right has become, what the Right could still be and how we can get it there.
Put simply, the party, and in many cases, the movement, has lost its moorings. Earmarks exploded ten-fold, and it wasn’t under a Democratic Congress. In this winter’s primary, we saw the once mighty fiscal-social-national conservative coalition turned in on itself, with economic conservatives pitted against social conservatives. And too many of the “experts” in the Presidential campaigns this cycle failed to modernize the way the party does business, clinging to the old top-down rostrums of direct mail and fundraising-by-cocktail-party in an increasingly networked and crowdsourced world. [...] We’re calling the site The Next Right because much of this story will be written in the future tense. Our analysis will be as much about looking ten and fifteen years down the road as it will be about dissecting the mechanics of the 2008 contest. What are the coalitions, strategies, and tactics the right needs to win again? How does the party need to change to attract a generation of voters who could very well be lost to us if we don’t move fast? Where do we find the candidates who will lead a resurgent right in the 2010 and 2012 elections and beyond? ... In that spirit, we’re opening the doors to anyone who wants to blog on The Next Right. Users will be able to create their own blogs on the site, an ability only a handful of conservative sites offer today. We’re also looking for a great stable of front-page writers who can write smart, savvy analysis on a consistent basis — email us if you think you fit the bill. We want to open this up as much as possible. ... We don’t think this alone will solve the activism gap. ... What we’re hoping to do is create momentum and an intellectual framework for action — because action ultimately starts with narratives and ideas. We want grassroots conservatives and libertarians to start believing that they can make a difference again — a sense all too many have lost. ... The Next Right is about creating a vision for a 21st century Republican Party and conservative movement.
Like Soren said, "I think that we have somewhat different views of what exactly this means." That's probably true. My political opinions imply nothing about Soren, Ruffini or anybody else who blogs there. Their opinions don't imply anything about my views. We probably have somewhat different views of the ideal composition of the coalition, and of what policies should, and should not, be pursued.
However, I believe we all have a pretty consistent view of what the Movement needs to do in the short term, particularly online. Where we're being crucified.
Whittaker Chambers once wrote "I am not a conservative ... I am a man of the Right." Likewise, I am neither a Conservative nor a Republican. I am a Man of the Right. Ideologically, I am a libertarian, and I believe I can be most effective on the most pressing issues by working to reorient the Republican Party in a better direction by rebuilding a Movement - The Next Right.
We'll debut the site soon. In the meantime, go there and sign up for updates and an email notification as soon as we go live.
"The Next Right will be a useful place to discuss what the Right has become, what the Right could still be and how we can get it there. "
Probably no more useful than the myriad of other publications already devoted to the same end. I could be sarcastic and say something like " At last! Someone willing to talk about our problems". One of the problems I have observed over the years seems to be that many are eager and willing to bloviate about the problems and how to solve them, but few are actually willing to do the necessary work. In other words, I have heard this before.
Patrick Ruffini, the RNC’s eCampaign director in 2006, a consultant for Rudy Giuliani’s presidential campaign, and a consultant in private practice;
And Soren Dayton, a longtime Republican activist with particular roots in the College and Young Republican worlds. Until he decided to freelance on his own blog, he worked the political desk for John McCain’s presidential campaign. He has also consulted for international democracy movements.
I have to say I have a healthy dose of skepticism.
Everyone is entitled to their opinions, but on many key issues Jon your views align more closely with those in power than those of the Right that feel "disenfranchised". Immigration and taxes being two issues that come to mind.
If I look at the 1-2 line bios of your partners, I see this as an attempt at mapping the Leftward shift of the Republican Leadership onto Conservatism. Currently the increasing common statement, "I’m not a Republican, I’m a Conservative." must annoy many Republican cheerleaders and RINOs.
However, there is no doubt that there is angst to be tapped into. It will be interesting to see where this tries to take people and see if they follow.
Well, I will give the site a try because I am also a right leaning libertarian. I actually do not see any hope in the upcoming election. We will have liberals in firm control of both houses ans either a complete left wing president, or a Republican who never met a liberal he couldn’t make a deal with.
The other thing that really bothers me is that both parties seem to have accepted that it is a task upon the American taxpayer to feed, cloth, and protect the entire third world. At a time when our financial institutions are shaky, our currency has shrunk, and our economy is weak we are still asked to bear every burden.
In order to form a realistic opposition party you have to actually offer something different.
The problems with the Right and the Left right now are not even merely "related" or "two sides of the same coin"... they are exactly, identically the same.
The left’s history of being prone to demagoguery is decades old, and now they’ve allowed demagogues to talk them out of every position they hold dear in the interests of opposing their enemies of the day, sacrificing their putative long-term interests for short-term ones; they have elevated discrimination to a fine art, they have institutionalized racism, they stand against liberty and minor disagreements to stand in solidarity with men who will execute women for the crime of being raped and so on. The left largely won the day in the 60s, with the possible exception of the peace movement, and nothing so discombobulates an ideological movement like winning!
The right, stripped of a worthy adversary, has also wandered away from anything like a coherent vision that anybody can get behind. They claim fealty to a number of principles, but do not act on them. Ever.
And on the great scale of (social/economic)/(conservative/liberal), both parties have completely abandoned the "economic conservative", which is not a sustainable long-term position. Especially as spending like drunken sailors and the ever-closer bankruptcy of our social programs slowly but surely recruits more people into this category.
The re-alignments of the "right" and the "left" in this country will occur simultaneously, and I think will occur soon (i.e., "before the 2012 Presidental election", perhaps sooner; it’s like sparking kindling, you don’t know when it will happen but it will be sudden when it does). I don’t know the exact form it will take, but I will make two predictions: The hippies that have sacrificed their every ideal over the decades in an increasingly-blind opposition to the opponents of the day will be marginalized on the left, and the right will once again pick up the banner of fiscal conservatism at least for a time. But I don’t think the changes will be limited to that; entire major demographics and ideologies are up for grabs and the chaos will probably take a decade to shake out, even in this new era of daily news cycles.
If I look at the 1-2 line bios of your partners, I see this as an attempt at mapping the Leftward shift of the Republican Leadership onto Conservatism.
Knowing all three of the contributors I’m confident it won’t be an effort to push the GOP to the Left.
I see this project as a way to figure out where the Right and the GOP should go. Where do we want to see American over the next few decades? What ideas will be needed to get us there? How can we best package them in a way voters will accept them?
Think of the years post-Goldwater when conservatives were thinking and organizing to be ready for the moment when a leader like Reagan came along.
Yeah, maybe this medium where people come together in communal groups for free, out of pure public interest, is just the way to revive a party dedicated to individualism, the profit motive, and the primacy of the private over the public sphere.
brooksfoe, I would continue putting the "private over the public sphere." It’s not a question of lack of caring or empathy for my fellow man. It’s collectivization yanks responsibility from individuals and doesn’t knowledge in an effective manner.
The profit motive tells people they’re using economic resources effectively. It’s a scorekeeper as well as an incentive giver. We need more such forms of feedback, not less.
That is not a sustainable state of affairs. The Republican Party isn’t serving the Right, and the Right isn’t likely to continue serving the Republican Party.
I don’t think it’s as bad as you make it out to be, but it could very well get that way quite soon.
that the Right’s "interest groups have become profoundly transactional and trivial in scope"
Could you expand on what you mean by "transactional"? I’m probably confused because my jargon (database systems) has a very specific definition of transaction and transactional.
My best guess, from context, would be that transactional means that in their capacity as rent-seekers, they’re making short-term deals with politicians, but I kinda thought that’s what lobbyists and such are supposed to do.
How will you know whether it’s an effective use of economic resources?
You ask me.
(I’ll just go ahead and assume you would.)
(...drum roll... ... crack of thunder ...) I, Supreme Arbiter of All Things, deem it so.
For a long time Republicans have tried to mimic the coalition form of the Democrats. The Social Conservatives, and the Economic Conservatives and the National Security Conservatives. It fails for the same reason it is failing anywhere else ’coalitions’ are failing: eventually, coalition members determine they are being used or shortchanged by their ’partners’.
"I don’t care about economic issues, social issues are what is important to me." "I don’t care about social issues when we are being attacked." "I don’t care about national security when we are killing innocents."
I CARE about the idea that individuals are sovereign and the government is a limited servant. If you don’t care about conservative values unless they serve your particular issue, then YOU have failed to support conservative values.
The RIGHT will regain it’s footing and values when it recommits to the premise that principles are not issue specific.
Will this "next right" ever crack open the book Natural Capitalism, and update its understanding of pure economics? Will the "next right" ever admit that climate change is due in part to a market failure? Will there be a place for science in this "next right"?
Or is it going to be the same old right, trying its hardest to sound new and interesting?