Elias Isquith makes a good point about the much-ballyhooed “conservative reformers” — that they’re largely all about W-style “compassionate conservatism” minus the attempts to court non-white voters:
What’s especially troubling is that these changes, though small, tend to lean in the direction of making compassionate conservatism even worse. Whereas compassionate conservatives tried to woo minority voters by focusing on education reform, the conservative reformers prefer instead to lock in that dwindling subset of sometimes-Republicans: working-class whites. Douthat and Salam’s essay has much to say about “pro-family” tax reform — they even flirt with endorsing wage subsidies and Romneycare — and the struggling economic station of the working class. But when it comes to minority voters, the authors rather blithely conclude that the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina has rendered futile any attempts to court African Americans. Gobry, meanwhile, is too busy unpersuasively explaining why Ronald Reagan was secretly pro-government.
I don’t believe conservative reformers have so little to say on race due to bigotry. But the focus on lower-scale whites is not only strategically questionable…
In many ways “Sam’s Club Conservatism” is admirable, in that it’s a plan to do something for working class voters instead of relying on Nixon/Buchanan backlash identity politics to appeal to hardworking white Americans (heh). But it won’t accomplish much politically, unless it’s accompanied by a plan to compete for non-white voters.
Maybe by giving white working-classs voters something more than bigotry and Gods, guns, and gays, Republicans can continue to do well with that demographic while at the same time retreating from the culture wars they are now badly losing. But that seems like a very long-term plan to me.