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January 07, 2008



I hope that what we are seeing is NOT a Republican Party "shift to Conservative/Christian populism" ... because in the medium- to long-term that would be a disaster for the GOP, as well as for the country.

There are four basic principles on which to found a political party in a modern industrial state. You can tweak them and shape them at the margins, but here they are:

Liberalism (19th Century variety); and

Long term....

Religion will not work in a pluralistic, multi-ethnic society. It might work in a theocratic state like Israel or Saudi Arabia. But certainly not in, say, the US or (anymore) the UK. The US Republican establishment has used the votes of evangelicals to gain power in the past 25 years or so; but then governed via their inner country-club Republican tendencies. So the "religious base" of the Republicans have been used and abused by the Eastern elite. Republicans talked a good religious game, but seldom played it out in the legislative arena.

Liberalism (19th Century variety) will not work because it cannot muster the continuing requirement for guts to fight for the nation and its interests. From the standpoint of national survival, liberals are pussies. This is one of the core and historic weaknesses of the Democrats, certainly since the 1960s.

Socialism will not work because it depletes the economic base and lards the economy with non-productive, statist overhead. In the modern US, both major parties have walked down some (Republican) or much (Democrats) of this slippery slope.

Which leaves a focused form of nationalism as the best long term philosophy on which to found a governing party. That means, at root, the need to look out for the long term industrial and economic interests of the nation. And take care of the home front first. The US has fallen away from this focus in recent decades, what with the fuzzy one-worldism of many within the governing elite (To some extent Republican; to a vast extent the Democrats). One current example of successful nationalistic governance within an advanced economy may be Putin's Russia, but this gets into distant tangents.

The Republicans could do worse than to find a sort of nationalistic-populism that appeals to the middle base. This would cut across many religious lines, although some of the rhetoric would doubtless be in terms of religious concepts. At the end of the day, the promise has to be something along the lines of "America for Americans," with balanced trade in and out of a re-industrializing economy. Fortunately (in a way, anyhow), the US industrial base has atrophied to such a great extent that the coming generation of leapfrog and transformational technologies offer quite a bit of benefit to the US economy, without breaking too many domestic ricebowls.

On one key issue alone, the Republicans could score a major coup if they focused on rebuilding the energy system from the inside out. No, not just more drilling for more oil offshore or in Alaska... a broken record-solution that harkens back to the disco-days of the 1970s. More drilling is a temporary and unsatisfactory fix in the best of times. But try offering entirely new approaches to letting market forces bring new energy technologies into peoples' lives... now that might get some attention.

As for the Democrats and their supreme confidence about the demise of the Republicans in the next election..... recall the words of coach John Madden: "Don't do your touchdown dance while you are still on the 40-yard line."

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