Trying to Turn Republicans into Liberals Is Now Hopeless

View of the United States Capitol in Washington DC, January 20, 2009
View of the United States Capitol in Washington DC, January 20, 2009 (Wikimedia Commons/Bgwwlm)

David Frum, a former speechwriter for George W. Bush, argues in The Atlantic that the Republican Party should become the party of liberalism in the United States.

As the Democrats move to left on economic policy, there is room for a party that defends free markets, free trade, limited government and personal liberty.

I agree, and before Donald Trump I was optimistic that the Republican Party could move in this direction. I called it Republican Party 2.0.

On the eve of the 2016 election, when I was still confident Hillary Clinton would win, I even urged Republicans to purge Trump’s insurgents and return the party to its pre-Newt Gingrich center-right bearings.

But then Trump won and now Republicans have surrendered to him and his philosophy. Read more

So Much for the “Vanguard” of American Conservatism

Republican governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, February 26, 2015
Republican governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, February 26, 2015 (Gage Skidmore)

Six years ago, citing Kimberley Strassel in The Wall Street Journal, I called America’s Republican governors the “vanguard” of a conservative reform movement.

What disappointments they have turned out to be. Read more

Leaders Are Not Their Countries

Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán attends a debate in the European Parliament in Brussels, May 19, 2015
Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán attends a debate in the European Parliament in Brussels, May 19, 2015 (European Parliament)

It’s a tried-and-tested strongman tactic: conflate yourself with the nation to silence your critics. Read more

Three Reasons Liberals Need to Look Left, Not Right, for Allies

A couple cycles past the Arlington Memorial Bridge in Washington DC, December 25, 2016
A couple cycles past the Arlington Memorial Bridge in Washington DC, December 25, 2016 (Kian McKellar)

Leonardo Carella, an expert on Italian politics, argues that, strategically and policy-wise, pro-market liberals now have more in common with social democrats than they do with conservatives.

I think he is right, for three reasons: Read more

American Left Must Not Create Its Own Stab-in-the-Back Legend

1924 German National People's Party election poster promotes the myth that socialists stabbed German soldiers fighting in World War I in the back
1924 German National People’s Party election poster promotes the myth that socialists stabbed German soldiers fighting in World War I in the back

The American left risks making the same mistake as the far right in blaming its political failures on the alleged impurity of its leaders.

The defeat of establishment-backed Democrats in New York and Massachusetts at the hands of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna Pressley, respectively, is giving the left hope that America is finally ready for social democracy.

They wants Democrats to campaign on debt-free college education, Medicare-for-all, abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and impeaching President Donald Trump.

They are appalled that Nancy Pelosi has promised to restore pay-as-you-go budgeting in a Democratic Congress — requiring spending cuts or tax increases to pay for new policies — fearing this will make overhauls of education, environmental law and health care impossible.

There are several problems with this attitude. Read more

Sánchez Has the Right Idea: A Referendum on Catalan Home Rule

Catalan president Quim Torra is welcomed by Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez in Madrid, July 9
Catalan president Quim Torra is welcomed by Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez in Madrid, July 9 (La Moncloa)

Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez has proposed calling a referendum on a renegotiated statute for Catalan home rule.

In 2010, the Spanish Constitutional Court rewrote parts of Catalonia’s 2006 autonomy statute. Most of the changes were minor, except they limited Catalonia’s fiscal autonomy and took out the description of Catalonia as a “nation”.

As a result, Sánchez said in a radio interview, “Catalonia has a statute that it didn’t vote for.”

78 percent of Catalan voters ratified the 2006 statute in a referendum. Read more

The American Right Needs to Stop Crying Wolf

Vermont senator Bernie Sanders makes a speech in Phoenix, Arizona, July 18, 2015
Vermont senator Bernie Sanders makes a speech in Phoenix, Arizona, July 18, 2015 (Gage Skidmore)

American conservatives who worry that the Democratic Party is becoming “socialist” should take a look across the Atlantic. In Britain, Labour has re-embraced actual statism and it is nevertheless polling neck and neck with the ruling Conservatives at 40 percent.

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn calls for nationalizing industries and lifting regulatory restrictions on trade unions. He blames NATO for the Cold War, supports unilateral nuclear disarmament and sympathizes with seemingly every anti-Western cause, be it republican terrorism in Northern Ireland or Hamas and Hezbollah in the Holy Land.

The so-called socialism of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a New York candidate for Congress, and Bernie Sanders looks mild by comparison.

Universal health care? Debt-free college? More progressive taxation? That’s not even left-wing in Europe, it’s mainstream. Read more