George Will's latest, "A reformed Republican party," is a brief study in broad misdirection. A more felicitous title would have come in question form, absent the modifier: "A Republican party?" I say this not because Will's party took such a dreadful pounding last week, but because its postmortems, especially Will's, are acknowledging little to no pathology, which augurs ill for its future. To wit:
Liberals have an inherent but not insuperable advantage: As enthusiasts of government, to which many of them are related as employees or clients, they are more motivated for political activity than are conservatives, who prefer private spaces. Never mind. Conservatives have a commensurate advantage: Americans still find congenial conservatism’s vocabulary of skepticism about statism. And events — ongoing economic anemia; the regulatory state’s metabolic urge to bully — will deepen this vocabulary’s resonance.
That's an astounding passage, except this is George Will we're talking about, who's always triumphantly right, even when proven magnificently wrong. The sheer, blind snideness of Will's miscomprehension is breathtaking. Liberals are liberals, you see, because they benefit personally from government; it's not that they're concerned about everyone's environment or greater access to healthcare or a more peaceful global existence. No, they're just takers.
And conservatives? Their "vocabulary," given just a little immigration and civil-libertarian makeover, is as useful as ever; and what's more, when liberalism's brutal totalitarian statism finally arrives--about which conservatives have warned annually since at least 1933 and before that the passage of the taxing 16th Amendment--innocently suckered Americans will finally appreciate that vocabulary's even deeper "resonance."
Meanwhile, though, it's mostly just a matter of getting the virtuous Word out more effectively, according to Will. "The advocacy infrastructure being developed by both sides in the post-Citizens United world will, over time, favor the most plausible side, which conservatives know is theirs"; Republicans only need "emulate Democrats’ tactics for locating and energizing their voters."
Thus the answer to the problem of a dead message to a dying base is essentially more of it: more disinformative Fox News, more demented talk radio, more intellectually corrupted think tanks, more filthy Rovian bucks--all of it topped, though, by a spiffier voter-turnout operation.
With the strategic likes of George Will on its side, the Republican Party doesn't need Democrats as enemies.