The Agenda

Kristen Soltis on GOP Reinvention: It’s Not About Moving Left or Right

Wise words from Kristen Soltis, a pollster and policy analyst at the Winston Group:

The challenge to Republicans and conservatives today is to answer the question: How do our policies make everyone better off? How do we solve the problems we face in the modern era? And how do we tell that message to others?

Less than two weeks before the election, President Obama gave an interview to MTV on issues that matter to young voters. Entrepreneurship is a goal of many young Americans, and the president was asked what his policies would do to help young people start their own business. His response was excellent. He talked about how he had rolled back financial regulation to make it easier for small investors to contribute online to projects so that people could seek crowd-funding to jumpstart their ideas.

He gave a concrete, fresh solution for a real problem people face, and it was based in conservative principles: empowering individuals to drive innovation rather than government, peeling back harmful regulation, giving investors more freedom with private funds. It’s a problem when our opponent can explain how to apply our ideas better than we can. [Emphasis added]

One is reminded of Evan Soltas’s observation that Republicans often frame relatively anodyne policies in highly ideological terms while Democrats shrewdly appropriate centrist language to advance left-of-center policies. Consider, for example, the mysterious failure of conservatives to describe Medicare premium support as a straightforward extension of Medicare Advantage, a familiar and relatively popular program. 

Reihan Salam is president of the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor of National Review.

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