“Rand Paul’s dramatic 13-hour filibuster of the Brennan nomination, the attacks on his position from established Republican leaders like Senator John McCain, and the conservative applause Sen. Paul received afterward had many talking about a sea change in Republican foreign policy — and that was before he won the CPAC straw poll. Were the isolationists and America-Firsters coming back from the margins, led by the younger and more telegenic Paul? Could Patrick Buchanan style thinking be returning to the mainstream of an anti-engagement, ignore-Israel Republican Party?”
It’s often said that Republicans are the Daddy Party in American politics, while the Democrats stand in for Mom. Mom is about putting nice meals on the table, pushing us to do well in school and teaching us to be kind to other kids; Dad worries about the budget, enforces the rules, teaches us to be self reliant, and is the one you look to when bullies or criminals threaten.
Naturally in these enlightened times we reject all such sexist rhetoric; we are all Coneheads now with interchangeable, unisex parental units instead of mothers and fathers. Still, the old description has some merit, and Moms nationally do lean towards the Democrats, while Dads tend to go GOP.
Our problem these days is that neither parent is really doing its job. Like a couple of addled narcissists too busy with midlife crises to tend to the kids, both parties are falling down on the job. The Mommy Party has messed up the schools, the pensions, the post office, healthcare and local government, but unless you think the Iraq War was a strategic masterstroke and brilliantly executed to boot, the Bush administration often looked more like Homer Simpson than John Wayne.
At Via Meadia we keep a close eye on the mess in Mom’s kitchen; it’s a time of real crisis. The traditional methods and institutions of the 20th century progressive state are less and less able to deliver what people need in the contemporary world, and the wholesale renovation and reform of the American social model is an urgent and inescapable task.
Generally speaking, the Republicans are doing some interesting things on the Mommy side these days. With fewer ties to the vested interests that want to fight change in domestic institutions, the Republicans have led the way on some promising education initiatives and government reforms. There’s something of an intellectual ferment on the GOP side these days as politicians and wonks hunt around for ideas that might reduce the “Mom gap” and make voters trust Republicans more on some domestic governance issues. It’s a start, though much more needs to be done.
But where Republicans are falling down on the job these days seems to be in the realm of foreign policy – a traditional GOP strength. Between the annual CPAC meeting and the intra-party struggle over Senator Rand Paul’s drone filibuster, it’s clear that the GOP has some big unresolved questions to ponder.