No Leader - No Problem?
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After a longer-than-usual campaign season of infighting over its principles and goals, the GOP should acknowledge the dissention within its ranks by giving multiple voices a mantle and a microphone.
It's not Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, Sean Hannity or Mitt Romney. It's Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, Sean Hannity and Mitt Romney. It's Rush and Steele and Jindal, too. Of course, it's Newt Gingrich. And Reps. Cantor, Pence and McConnell, too. The GOP needs a broad coalition of bright leaders, young up-and-comers, seasoned veterans, loud-mouthed radio hosts, sober and serious policy wonks and Capital Hill movers and shakers.
If that's the image the GOP projects, it'll pay dividends over the long run. In recent years, Democrats - radicalized by the netroots - have become increasingly hostile and exclusionary toward those inside their own ranks who don't tow the party line. The liberal pieties of the day, like green living, abortion rights and secular science, are prerequisites for membership, and Democrats who disobey orders are routinely and publicly scolded.
The right, contrastingly, should embrace its intellectual diversity in favor of tolerance and inclusion, bringing Ron Paul libertarians, Huckabee values voters and David Brooks conservative intellectuals into the fold.
This doesn't mean denying internal disagreements or letting the GOP morph into a shapeless, all-things-to-all-people, opportunistic blob. We still share core values - chief among them, fiscal responsibility, which we need now more than ever.
It means relishing the vibrant, sometimes raucous, sometimes conflicting tangle of ideas that make up conservatism - and treating them as strengths, not weaknesses.