GOP endgames and the future of American conservatism

The Critic Who Counts

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Are the signs of a great unraveling beginning to emerge?

Last Sunday, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., appeared on George Stephanopoulos’ “This Week” and announced his willingness to violate conservative tycoon Grover Norquist’s infamous no-tax pledge. Alleging that he would “violate the pledge for the good of the country,” Graham took a step in a radical new direction for the GOP.

For years, the Republican Party has thrived on parliamentary-style discipline — ensuring its prolonged success by holding votes to the party line and refusing to budge on any issue. Essentially, the GOP excelled at playing chicken, and all too often, Democrats were willing to shy away and cave to conservative demands.

Maybe President Barack Obama’s re-election was a wake-up call, or maybe the notoriously ideological vacillator Graham is an exception to the rule in a still staunchly determined Republican caucus — either way, Graham’s willingness to place tax reform on the table is a sign of change to come in Washington if conservatives wish to remain relevant in the years ahead.

Obama’s Thanksgiving address perhaps said best precisely what the current GOP is lacking: “As Americans, we are a bold, generous, big-hearted people. When our brothers and sisters are in need, we roll up our sleeves and get to work — not for the recognition or the reward but because it’s the right thing to do. Because there but for the grace of God go I. And because here in America, we rise or fall together, as one nation and one people.”

Until recently, it appeared all hope was lost for Republicans regaining their senses and appreciating the “oneness” of the American people. As it beat the drums of Romney’s “inevitable” victory and dared Obama once again to avoid the fiscal cliff without its help, the GOP forgot that Americans are fundamentally a united people — despite the polls and pundits who might say otherwise. I hope Graham’s newfound willingness to sit at the same table as Democrats for fiscal talks is an acknowledgement of the American people’s united mandate and united expectations for America’s future.

There are Americans, including myself, who wish for a rejuvenated Republican Party — a party that believes in free markets but also wise regulation, hands-off government but also a disposition toward lending a hand to the down-and-out, social moderation but also an acknowledgement of the diversity present in this country.

Unfortunately, the party of Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower has been dead for generations. Maybe Graham and his ilk are finally beginning to figure that out.

Image Source: DonkeyHotey via Creative Commons


Contact Connor Grubaugh at [email protected]