MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough on how to save the Republican party. An excerpt:
The first thing Republicans must do is move past the current definition of conservative. Let’s face it. American conservatism is now associated with wasteful spending, military adventurism and ideological conformity. The GOP took a $155 billion surplus and turned it into a $1.5 trillion debt. George W. Bush and the Republican Congress also allowed federal spending to grow at its fastest clip since the Great Society, while adding a $7 trillion burden to a Medicare program already headed toward bankruptcy.
On the international stage, Bush dismissed Colin Powell’s disciplined approach to foreign policy in favor of one that guaranteed the ending of tyranny for all mankind. By Bush’s second term, the GOP’s foreign policy objectives were so utopian that even Woodrow Wilson would have been aghast.
Perhaps most damaging to the Republican brand is the fact that GOP leaders have allowed themselves to be defined too easily as rigid ideologues, blindly faithful to an unyielding agenda. Because of that, Obama has been able to move America dangerously leftward while blaming Republicans for the partisan divide.
For the better part of 200 years, conservatives followed a different path. British statesman Edmund Burke was the movement’s founder. A fierce critic of the French Revolution, Burke had contempt for rigid ideologues of all stripes and instead attached conservatism to restraint, custom and convention.
Burke’s thinking can be summed up easily: Respect reality. Understand the age you’re living in, and understand its facts. As William F. Buckley said more than two years before his death, “Conservatism implies a certain submission to reality.” But the approach championed by Burke and Buckley is a far cry from the mind-set embraced by today’s Republican Party.