Sam’s Club conservatism was floated by Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam when the Republican Party felt a need to reinvent itself. It seems to have lost out, in Pawlenty’s campaign and in the party, to the tea party grass roots, interested in rolling government back, not reshaping it.
I should be happy about this and in some ways I am. I don’t want a conservatism devoted to soothing the culture war base with government aid and support. But a reasonable small government conservative? Someone who does not actually despise government? Someone who can see the fruits of compromise for the body politic as a whole?
Even Huntsman joined the hands up moment – perhaps the most important single moment in recent GOP politics – when all the candidates declared they would walk away from a debt deal that was 10 – 1 spending cuts to revenue increases. That was when they told us they were an ideological and religious movement, not a party fit for actual government.