Conservative Reaction To Election ’12, Part III: No “Centrist” Renewal Project In Sight

It’s an obvious corollary to the general consensus in RepublicanLand that more, not less, conservative ideology is the answer to the party’s problems, but it’s worth noting for the record what we are not hearing: the kind of proposal for a “centrist” renewal project that rethinks those elements of conservative ideology that don’t seem to be working in presidential elections. Now by that I don’t mean the voices calling for a tweak or “new ideas” on isolated policy areas like immigration (part, though not parcel, of the GOP’s problems with Latinos)–or those suggesting new packaging or messaging for the same old bag of beans. So far the only prominent self-identified Republican I’ve seen crying out in the wilderness for a more fundamental reconsideration of conservatism is Christine Todd Whitman at Politico, someone who has about as much influence in the GOP as me or thee.

As someone with some experience with “centrist renewal projects” in the Democratic Party, at the much-reviled, now-defunct, but once-influential Democratic Leadership Council, I wrote a piece for TNR (published yesterday) comparing the circumstances in the Donkey Party of the 1980s and 1980s that, for better or worse, led to the DLC’s rise, with those in the GOP today. To make the long story short, there seems to be zero impetus for anything like it among Republicans. Yet mark my words: the MSM will indulge its false-equivalence tendencies once again in the weeks just ahead to blow up every tactical argument among Republicans into a deep soul-searching effort in which no stone is left unturned and no option undiscussed. But based on recent history and current developments, it just ain’t happening.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.