More evidence that the “reformist” vs. “traditionalist” labeling obscures more than it reveals comes from John Hawkins’s response to the Brooks column.
David Brooks refers to the moderates as “reformists.” But, what exactly are they really reforming, when their ideas have been the ones dominating the party for years? Bush is a “compassionate conservative.” Bush and the Senate GOP were strong advocates of big government and amnesty. John McCain was the most moderate nominee since Richard Nixon — and guess what? The GOP got creamed in two straight elections in large part because of those very policies.
Most of the people that Brooks refers to as reformists, including me, were against amnesty. Neither Bush nor McCain ran on the chief “reformist” idea that I have been pushing (with the support of Levin, Douthat, Salam, and Brooks): a large tax cut for families. You know who did run on that idea? The Republican revolutionaries of 1994. How does building on their work place me on the anti-conservative side of some divide?
I’m sure that we “reformists” have differences of opinion with Hawkins, but I hope he will reconsider whether they are quite as big as he thinks.