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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Reform Conservatism

At The New York Times Magazine, Sam Tanenhaus writes of Yuval Levin and other conservative reformers:
Levin and company, who do have the policy mentality, will happily fill in the blanks. In the wake of Cantor’s defeat, April Ponnuru said she was still hearing from legislators interested in connecting with the ideas of the YG Network, and she had more events scheduled to spread the word. Rubio volunteered to speak at one such event in late June. He, too, shrugged off Cantor’s defeat. “I don’t think Eric Cantor lost because he gave a few speeches advocating reforms,” said Rubio, who seems to understand that being elected as an insurgent — riding the crest of a movement — doesn’t mean he has to govern as one. American politics is the story, in large part, of outsiders who became skilled insiders, not by selling out but by growing into the demands of the office. It happened to Barry Goldwater and also to Reagan. It might happen again. When I spoke with him, Rubio also stood by his own antipoverty proposal, acknowledging it would not save any money but suggesting it might in the long run since it would lift many out of poverty. This is exactly the case Lyndon Johnson and Democrats made generations ago. “Our debt isn’t driven by discretionary spending on poverty programs,” Rubio said. “We’re not going to balance the budget by saving money on safety-net programs.”
It is hard to imagine the Republican candidate who will say this in a closely contested Red State primary in 2014 or during a presidential race in 2016. But some politicians say otherwise, including Levin’s own favorite senator, Mike Lee, the Tea Party firebrand from Utah, who stood by Ted Cruz’s side during the October shutdown but also has adopted the reformers’ middle-class agenda as well as its idioms