Young, unpredictable and right-wing

"Over the past five years, a group of young and unpredictable rightward-leaning writers has emerged on the scene", writes David Brooks in the New York Times. Instead of rising through the official channels of the movement, he says, "they found their voices while blogging. The new technology allowed them to create a new sort of career path and test out opinions without much adult supervision."

In passing Brooks mentions Will Wilkinson, Megan McArdle, Yuval Levin, Daniel Larison, Julian Sanchez, James Poulos, Matt Continetti and, Ramesh Ponnuru. He then goes on to plug a new book by Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam — ‘Grand New Party: How Republicans can Win the Working Class and Save The American Dream‘. According to Brooks, the book is "the best single roadmap of where the party should and is likely to head" (Douthat isn’t so sure the party will take his advice ).

I haven’t had a chance to read Grand New Party, but it sounds like it’s in the same genre as Ruy Teixeira and Joel Rogers’ America’s Forgotten Majority: Why the White Working Class Still Matters. — a 2000 book that argued that Democrats could win back the white working class by focusing on values (this book, in turn, was a successor to Scammon and Wattenberg’s The Real Majority).

These kinds of books are mostly spin. Instead of presenting a coherent philosophical and policy position, they try to craft a message that will appeal to the target group without alienating the party’s base. Policies are chosen for their value as symbols rather than because there’s evidence they’ll actually work. Maybe Douthat and Salam’s book is different. But I’m not surprised that Douthat feels an affinity for the early neoconservatives and Britain’s David Cameron.

Of all the writers in Brooks’ list, Will Wilkinson is my pick. It’s not because I always agree with him (or because he links to my posts), but because he takes political philosophy and social theory seriously. When Will wants to know how the economy works, he doesn’t consult an opinion poll to find the answer.

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JC
JC
13 years ago

Instead of presenting a coherent philosophical and policy position, they try to craft a message that will appeal to the target group without alienating the partys base.

But that’s how you win elections, Don. The political philosophy remains the same but the message is communicated with different words.

the forgotten middle class.

the bridge to the 21 st century

Contract with America.

Working families.

These have political philosophies redrafted in new language… well

“bridge to the 21st century”

not so much.

Jason Soon
Jason Soon
13 years ago

Grand New Party is paleo-conservatism with a polite face

http://www.vdare.com/sailer/080713_ideas.htm

For a libertarian critique see here

http://tpmcafe.talkingpointsmemo.com/2008/07/16/ross_is_right/#more

swio
swio
13 years ago

I have been a reader of the blogosphere since 2002. During all that time I have found just one new idea on social and economic organisation that seems like it might have some value and I don’t think I even got that from a blog.

Blogs are often fun to read but eventually you realise that the underlying ideas and arguments never really change.

Don Arthur
Don Arthur
13 years ago

I have been a reader of the blogosphere since 2002. During all that time I have found just one new idea on social and economic organisation that seems like it might have some value and I dont think I even got that from a blog.

swio – Now you’ve made me curious. What was this new idea and are sure it wasn’t just an old idea you hadn’t come across before?

Helen
13 years ago

I don’t see poor old (I mean young) Michelle Malkin in there, what is she, chopped liver?! Her wingnut credentials are impeccable. And what about Caitlin Flanagan? Just to name two off the top of my head.

Down and Out of S
13 years ago

Helen: the writers Brooks mentions are the wonky types who are into ideas and social policy. Their ideas may not be very good. Some are dishonest. Brooks himself is the type of person who writes amateur social analysis for the New York Times, and (by utter coincidence) always comes to conclusions that coincide with the Republican agenda. In other words, he’s a hack. But none of them are Our Lady Of Perpetual Outrage – the woman who wants to tell you why Dunkin’ Donuts supports terrorism, and why Absolut Vodka advocates Reconquista. One of these things doesn’t belong with the others.

Niall
13 years ago

everyone has opinions, but why is there a need to categorise, pidgeon-hole or otherwise put those opinions into boxes for simple dismissal?

delperro
13 years ago

Is Lloyd gay?

Down and Out of S
13 years ago

Let me be clearer this fine morn: “Their ideas may or may not be very good.” I blame the Tour de France for my ambiguity.

Andrew Norton
Andrew Norton
13 years ago

I’m a fan of Will Wilkinson too, but even in America nobody is going to win elections on a platform taken from the Cato policy handbook. JC’s right that thinking about how to win elections is important too.

Don Arthur
Don Arthur
13 years ago

… nobody is going to win elections on a platform taken from the Cato policy handbook.”

And nobody’s going to argue with that.

But since I’m not one of the handful of people whose job it is to craft messages for election campaigns, for me these books are only of academic interest.

I know that some people make a hobby out of backseat-driving during election campaigns, but if I’m going to read something that’s of academic interest, I’d rather it was about ideas with longer shelf than how party x can win the next election.

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