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Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Democratic Dominance, Republican Future

In National Review Online, I question the argument that President Obama's problems stem from GOP power: "Even at the GOP’s 2004 peak, rumors of its omnipotence were greatly exaggerated. Now they are just plain loopy. Democrats hold daunting advantages that American parties have seldom enjoyed." The article goes on to catalog some of these advantages in Congress, the media, and campaign finance.

Nevertheless, the president could help revive the GOP. In Commentary, Peter Wehner and Michael Gerson observe:
Obama’s overreach has created a measure of opportunity for Republicans. The question is whether that opportunity will be grasped. Can Republicans overcome their manifest problems and succeed in preparing themselves for a restoration of public trust, and can they do so not only by appealing to new groups but also by offering compelling answers to pressing public needs?

They offer a thought-provoking primer, urging Republicans to take a full-throated stand on national defense, develop a reform agenda, and restore their reputation as the party of community and order. And they stress the importance of demeanor:
Running through this account of domestic and national-security issues is an attitude toward public life and toward public discourse. Tone and bearing are terribly undervalued commodities in American politics. On the whole, people drawn to a party like to feel that those representing the party are both amiable and peaceable. This hardly precludes conviction and tough-mindedness when it comes to articulating policy. Democracy was designed for disagreement, and the proper role of an opposition party is to oppose. But anger, personal attack, and extreme language do nothing to expand the appeal of a party in trouble.