OPINION: For Republicans, the New Way is the Old Way
In her article, The "California Republican Party is Dead; A New Way Must Rise," Kristin Olsen makes the claim that the national Republican Party of today does not live up to its former principles of individual liberties, economic opportunity, and global leadership in education. Until the party distances itself from President Trump's brand of politics, Olsen continues, the Republican option will cease to be viable.
There are millions of Republicans like Olsen who are disappointed by the current political climate. This group seeks a party that can maintain the founding spirit of the United States while proposing valid alternatives to counter the increasingly radical policies emerging from the Democratic left flank.
To these seekers, I propose a difficult task: reinvigorate old guard Republicans.
The latest incarnation of the GOP is built on a specific kind of populism. There is, of course, the same rhetoric of fiscal conservatism, national security, and unilateralism that spurred the Tea Party movement.
But, in addition, there is also a form of paleoconservativism that espouses an opposition to globalism and a return to traditional values. This inevitable hybrid has generated a new, energized, voting base for the right-wing in America.
Rabid populism begets radical discourse. To generate a return to normalcy, the duty falls to Republicans, as the governing body, to begin disarmament.
It is not an impossible task - the modern roots of the Republican party were born of intellectuals. Look only to figures like Jon Huntsman, Paul Ryan, and Mitt Romney, who not even a decade ago were serious contenders for the White House. Their platforms of budget reconciliation, technocracy, and strong government/business cooperation, fall in line with the values once promoted in well-regarded conservative publications of note like National Review, The Public Interest, and The Weekly Standard.
Though the old guard may not be as ideologically pure as the neocons of the early 2000s, their centrist tendencies can bring reason back into the public lexicon and draw the rug out from extremists of both the left and right wings by depriving them of a receptive audience.
Extremism is rarely organic - it is a response to a perceived threat. By behaving reasonably, the right-wing can provide a cause for de-escalation.
Understandably, these individuals will not be easily courted back into the fold. They witnessed anti-establishment sentiment evolve from a manageable creep in the fringes of their party to a complete overhaul of the values that they campaigned on. The old guard has had to choose between defending their positions, once taken as Republican doctrine, or joining in political mudslinging.
The clock is ticking for the right. Many have suggested changing demographics as the death knell for the GOP, but I would contend that if the party cannot reintegrate their erstwhile champions before they die off, then the Republican Party will be locked out from national politics, relegated to the role of a regional party.