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Reform Conservatism Marches On


I don’t say that to make a sectarian point in the intra-conservative war, such as it is (is it even still on?), but simply to observe that we are watching conservatism in its practical, electoral aspect refresh itself as we speak. In Virginia, there’s a new Republican governor who is determined to develop and apply the next generation of innovative conservative policy; in New Jersey, there’s a new Republican governor who wants to reform that ungovernable state — and has nominated Bret Schundler to be his education commissioner, incredibly enough; in Massachusetts, there’s a Republican senator who found a way to own the center in a Northeastern state, appealing to independents and even Democrats, in a way no one would have thought imaginable a month or two ago. After the 2008 election, the Right was written off as stale, out-of-touch, bereft of political leadership — with the assumption it would be that way for a long time. In McDonnell, Christie, Brown, we see just how short-sighted that critique was, and there will be more new talents coming up behind them in November. Of course, they have to succeed in governing, and have to hold the center. But ‘06 and ‘08 are looking more and more like a great cleansing that enabled a return to principles and new, fresher expressions of conservatism to emerge. Here’s hoping it’s just the beginning.