In his farewell post on David Frum's wonderful blog, Noah Kristula Green gives us a taste of what American conservatism might be if it were not tied to its current extremism. It's a great list – and note where it starts:
Why couldn't the Republicans and conservatives…
-Embrace gay marriage with the same enthusiasm as David Cameron? ("I don’t support gay marriage in spite of being a conservative. I support gay marriage because I am a conservative.")
-Have a Values Voter Summit be about all voters of faith and not merely be an Evangelical Christian convention?
-Would it really be so hard for the GOP to renounce Austrian economics and support monetary stimulus in an emergency? (As Milton Friedman would have done.)
-Could the pro-life movement change priorities from criminalizing abortion to working to find effective ways to disincentivize it?
-Can Republicans acknowledge that a Tax Credit is just as bad a subsidy?
-Can Republicans learn how to do the effective ethnic outreach needed to win minority groups in elections? If even Canadians could learn how to do this…
-And is it so hard to admit that Fox News is clearly produced with an eye towards the geriatric population and that it doesn't do a good job of speaking to Americans who are not yet 50?
At some point, the GOP will have to do all these things if it wants to survive as a national party. The reason it can't? Religious and political fundamentalism. I remain of the view that the core conservative problem in America is that conservatives have become their own nemesis: ideological rather than pragmatic, pursuers of the perfect as opposed to the good, deeply uncomfortable with the modern world, and more at ease with the politics of resentment and radicalism than the politics of inclusion and moderation.
The good news is that Romney's embrace of Ryan means that a defeat this November, if it happens, will not be able to be coherently blamed on Romney's being a squish. He is putting the most radical agenda of any party in the West on the table. That may either heighten this country's cultural contradictions and economic decline and lead to a wider global religious war (my fear in a supply-side, Christianist presidency allied with Israel against the entire Muslim world). Or it may help speed the recovery of the conservative mind and temperament. Which is why every sane conservative should vote for Obama this November. It's the GOP's only medium-term hope.