Writing at the Weekly Standard, William Kristol offers a little advice to the Republican Party as it looks for a path forward. He outlines four steps for the GOP to take, but it’s the second one that stands out:
The second step is to recall Bill Buckley’s famous words, at the founding of National Review. The magazine—and by implication the conservative movement—would “stand athwart history, yelling Stop, at a time when no one is inclined to do so, or to have much patience with those who so urge it.” A little willingness on the part of Republicans to sometimes stand athwart History would also go a long way.
Kristol has not just woken up from a four-year coma. But if he had, this advice would make much more sense. After all, he would have missed the GOP’s decision to adopt the mantle of “no,” and oppose the whole of President Obama’s agenda, beginning in January 2009, and continuing—with few exceptions—to the present. Republicans offered near-categorical opposition to the stimulus, health care reform, cap and trade, financial reform, and early efforts at immigration reform. And in the last two years, it has used its majority in the House of Representatives to provoke a series of crises, all with the goal of breaking Obama’s agenda and forcing him to acquiesce to theirs.
Republicans have done nothing but follow Kristol’s advice, and they’re worse-off for it; President Obama is still in the White House, Democrats still control the Senate, and liberals have built a foundation for renewed government activism. Contra Kristol—who, we should remember—lived through the last four years, it might be better if Republicans tried an approach that hasn’t caused the public to reject their leadership and disparage their brand.
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