Last Thursday, a group of House Republicans filed into Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s Capitol office suite and received a blank piece of paper labeled “Agenda 2014.” The blank slate just about sums up where Republicans find themselves after a year marked by the first government shutdown in 17 years, futile efforts to repeal Obamacare and the inability to pass spending bills at the levels set by Republican leaders.
Well, if the GOP party leadership is looking for new ideas, I’ve got just the group. Earlier this year I wrote a piece looking at a group of Republican reformists who are attempting to create a new agenda for the conservative movement. Ross Douthat (one of the members) outlined a more explicit agenda here.
Now, as it happens I think Ross’s plan is pretty weak tea. However, I do think it is critically important for the Republican Party to come back to focusing on some kind of agenda besides scorched-earth opposition to everything President Obama does. Because the distinguishing characteristic of the modern GOP is their jaw-dropping apathy about substantive policy details.
A party with no agenda and nearly-complete lack of interest in governing is one that is impossible to negotiate with, and negotiation and compromise is key to the American system. Bringing Republicans back to the whiteboard (so to speak) would be enormous progress.