As the conventional wisdom goes, the Republican Party is in the midst of an identity crisis. Should the party stick with the socially conservative values of its older base, or should it embrace the new rash of libertarianism?
If a document drafted this week by party leaders is any indication, they aren’t exactly giving their views a makeover. At a secretive event Thursday, conservatives gathered in Tysons Corner, Va., to plot their strategy for the election year. As Robert Costa reported, the group gathered to express their dissatisfaction with the GOP establishment. But going by the ideas that this meeting produced, they shouldn’t be too worried — their goals are virtually identical to Conservative Classic.
Now, Time‘s Zeke Miller is reporting that the tea party has retaliated with its own manifesto:
Attendees agreed on a nine-page document outlining the “constitutional conservative” principles for which they believe the Republican Party needs to stand, including lower taxes, a stronger military and opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage.
Lower taxes, a stronger military, fighting abortion, and opposing same-sex marriage — how new, exactly, are these tenets of the Republican Party? If the GOP were a soda company, its slogan might be: “Great new look, same great taste!”
Even Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas has been openly walking back his position on gay marriage — avoiding talk of a federal ban in favor of the “constitutional” argument to let the states decide. Judging by recent actions in Idaho and Arkansas, that might be an unwise bet for social conservatives to make.
Another piece of conventional wisdom is that both parties need to appeal to young voters if they want to win elections. A recent Pew poll found that half of millennials now identify as independent, but they still tend to vote along Democratic lines.
There is room for the Republican Party to seize upon young people’s desire for a more moderate political alternative, if only party leaders would tone down their rhetoric on social issues. Opposing gay marriage and abortion may be part of the conservative conscience, but they are also political losers when you’re trying to target young voters.
This manifesto isn’t a document that lays out conservative platforms so much as shows how confused Republican leaders are about which values they should trumpet and which they should put on mute.
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Just after President Obama finished his address to the DNC, Hillary Clinton walked out on stage to join him, so the better could share a few embraces, wave to the crowd—and let the cameras capture all the unity for posterity.
In a speech that began a bit like a State of the Union address, President Obama said the "country is stronger and more prosperous than it was" when he took office eight years ago. He then talked of battling Hillary Clinton for the nomination in 2008, and discovering her "unbelievable work ethic," before saying that no one—"not me, not Bill"—has ever been more qualified to be president. When his first mention of Donald Trump drew boos, he quickly admonished the crowd: "Don't boo. Vote." He then added that Trump is "not really a plans guy. Not really a facts guy, either."
Tim Kaine introduced himself to the nation tonight, devoting roughly the first half of his speech to his own story (peppered with a little of his fluent Spanish) before pivoting to Hillary Clinton—and her opponent. "Hillary Clinton has a passion for children and families," he said. "Donald Trump has a passion, too: himself." His most personal line came after noting that his son Nat just deployed with his Marine battalion. "I trust Hillary Clinton with our son's life," he said.
Michael Bloomberg said he wasn't appearing to endorse any party or agenda. He was merely there to support Hillary Clinton. "I don't believe that either party has a monopoly on good ideas or strong leadership," he said, before enumerating how he disagreed with both the GOP and his audience in Philadelphia. "Too many Republicans wrongly blame immigrants for our problems, and they stand in the way of action on climate change and gun violence," he said. "Meanwhile, many Democrats wrongly blame the private sector for our problems, and they stand in the way of action on education reform and deficit reduction." Calling Donald Trump a "dangerous demagogue," he said, "I'm a New Yorker, and a know a con when I see one."
Vice President Biden tonight called President Obama "one of the finest presidents we have ever had" before launching into a passionate defense of Hillary Clinton. "Everybody knows she's smart. Everybody knows she's tough. But I know what she's passionate about," he said. "There's only one person in this race who will help you. ... It's not just who she is; it's her life story." But he paused to train some fire on her opponent "That's not Donald Trump's story," he said. "His cynicism is unbounded. ... No major party nominee in the history of this country has ever known less."