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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Nov. 24, 2008 / 26 Mar-Cheshvan 5769

Whither the Republican Party?

By Robert Robb

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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | After two electoral pastings, the debate and infighting about the future of the Republican Party will be intense.

There are basically three factions:



  • Those who want to exhume Ronald Reagan and return to the principles Bill Buckley and Barry Goldwater brought down from Mount Sinai. This faction tends to attend think tank confabs and remember wistfully late-night undergraduate debates about whether lighthouses should be privatized.

  • Those who think that Reagan is so, like, yesterday. This faction thinks the need is for a post-Reagan communitarian Republican Party that feels people's pain and doesn't truck with the sort who, you know, believe the Bible really means what it says, and stuff like that. They tend to write for the New York Times.

  • Those who think the problem is that Republican politicians are just a bunch of political wimps who won't fight tough or mean enough. This faction tends to congregate on talk radio.


What really happened to the Republican Party, and what should be done about it?

What happened

What happened is this: Iraq, Bush and the economy.

2004 was a base turnout election. Both political parties had fabulous turnout operations. The Republicans did a slightly better job and kept the presidency.

In 2006, Democrats again turned out and voted for Democrats. Republicans turned out and voted for Republicans. Independents, however, split decisively for Democrats over the Iraq war. Independents wanted an end to it and turned Congress over to the Democrats.

By the time 2008 rolled around, it was clear that the American electorate had had enough of President Bush and Republican rule.

Bush's low approval ratings were well-known. The depth of hostile sentiment, as revealed by the election exit poll, was nevertheless astonishing.

According to the poll, 71 percent of voters disapproved of Bush's job performance. That's familiar territory. But 50 percent of voters disapproved strongly. That's an electorate willing to take up a collection to pay for the moving van.

In 2008, Democrats still voted for Democrats and Republicans still voted for Republicans. But a significantly smaller portion of the electorate identified themselves as Republicans. The Republican base had shrunk.

Independents still split decisively for Democrats, this time on the issue of economic anxiety.

The failure of big-government conservatism

Why the Republican base shrank will be the subject of endless debate. But this much is certain: During the Bush years, the Republican Party lost any claim it had of being the party of smaller government.

The Bush presidency began with the largest expansion of the federal role in primary and secondary education since Jimmy Carter. It ended with the Bush administration partially nationalizing the banks.

In between, there was the largest expansion of the entitlement state since Lyndon Johnson with the Medicare prescription drug benefit. An explosion in pork-barrel spending. The biggest farm and highway spending bills ever. And a rate of spending growth double that of the Clinton presidency.

Part of this was actually by design. Bush and his political architect, Karl Rove, wanted to establish an enduring Republican governing majority by reconciling conservatives to an activist federal government, but one pursuing conservative ends. Hence, the role of the federal government in education was to be expanded, but to serve the conservative reform of accountability through testing.

Some called this big-government conservatism. It didn't work out too hot. Republicans got the big down pat. But somehow the conservative reforms, except for education, got dropped by the wayside. And once slipped from the leash, congressional Republicans found that spend-and-elect was fun.

Of course, Democrats are congenitally better at it than Republicans.

Getting back into the game

The voters didn't turn the government over to Democrats because Republicans lost their small-government cred, as some on the right would have it. With wages stagnant and the economy tanking, voters weren't in a small-government mood.

Recovering their small-government credentials, however, is how Republicans will get back into the game. At some point, voters will decide that Democrats have gone too far and someone needs to clean up. If voters have concluded that Republicans really will expand government less and spend less, they will get the call.

Restoring that reputation won't be easy, since Republicans pretty thoroughly trashed it. Although it should be easier to do in the minority.

Opposing the auto bailout is a good starting point, although even now Republicans cannot quite get it right. Republican leaders are saying that the problem is that the auto industry doesn't have a plan to restructure.

It wouldn't matter if Detroit hired every underemployed MBA in the country and had a gazillion plans. The principle is this: the only way Detroit should get money from the American people is by selling cars.

When saying stuff like that comes naturally to Republican politicians again, they will be on their way to recovery.

Building a governing consensus

However, Republicans have two challenges — one substantive, one political — that have to be addressed if they are to have a chance to be more than just the cleanup crew called in temporarily after Democrats have gone overboard.

The substantive challenge is to create a program to address economic anxiety.

The paradox of democratic capitalism is this: its success depends on risk-taking, but most people yearn for a sense of security.

It used to be that the pace of the creative destruction endemic to a market economy was slow enough to be manageable and politically tolerable.

With computerization and globalization, the pace of creative destruction has accelerated. The sense of economic anxiety it creates requires political attention.

Democrats are telling the American people that the pace of creative destruction can be slowed or somehow they can be made immune from it. That's just not the case.

Republicans, however, for the most part have told people they need to learn to live with it. That might make for a better performing economy, but not for a better civil society.

Republicans need to be developing programs to help people cope with and adjust to the faster pace of economic change. This is where the Republican Party really does need some new ideas.

The political challenge has to do with social conservatives.

Those who say that the Republican Party needs to jettison the religious right need a remedial math course. There is simply no plausible winning Republican formula that doesn't include an enthused social conservative base.

According to the election exit poll, a quarter of the electorate was White evangelicals. Try getting to 50 percent for a Republican candidate without them.

Nor are social conservatives going to agree to become second-class Republicans, as some would like — stuffing envelopes and voting for moderate Republicans who ignore their issues just because Democrats would be worse.

Moreover, social conservatism, properly articulated, is certainly not politically debilitating. In fact, it can attract swing voters and in most elections has.

The problem is that Republicans talking about social issues have increasingly sounded like Oliver Cromwell. And that has alienated independents and those who are economically conservative but socially liberal.

America has a strong live-and-let-live ethic, as does Arizona. Republicans do need to show more respect for it.

Dems have ball control

Despite the big-eyed reactions by political scientists and journalists, Americans are incrementalists when it comes to elections. They don't tend premeditatively to usher in sweeping, generational changes.

In 1980, voters didn't decide they wanted a generation of conservative rule. They decided they had had enough of Carter and it was OK to give Reagan a chance. In 1984 and 1988, they liked what they had seen, and decided to continue it. By 1992, they decided it was time to give a Democrat another shot.

Similarly, voters haven't decided to usher in a generation of liberal governance, as Democrats hope and Republicans fear. Instead, they decided that they had had enough of Bush and Republican rule, and it was OK to give Barack Obama and the Democrats another try.

Ball control is now with the Democrats. If the American people like what they see, their contracts are likely to be renewed. Republican criticisms or alternatives aren't going to matter much.

But Democratic overreach and history are likely to give Republicans another chance someday — maybe soon, maybe not.

At that point, Republicans have to represent an acceptable option for a disappointed, disgruntled or restless electorate. Republicans have quite a bit of work to do to get properly prepared for that moment.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Robert Robb is a columnist for The Arizona Republic. Comment by clicking here.

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