After listening to some of both the stupidest and smartest discussions of what the Republican Party and the conservative movement need to do, here’s my list of priorities (written from the perspective of an amateur member of the conservative movement):
- Principles before programs (principles meaning both values and a clear-headed view of how the universe actually works).
- Programs before personalities (programs being the practical application of principles).
- Personalities before political calculus (meaning, getting away from the horserace—especially the premature horserace—aspect of elections in favor of actually examining leaders, their ideas and their readiness to hold a particular office).
Right now, I believe with all my heart that we are going about all this bassackwards, completely from the wrong end of things. That’s why—at least as it appears to me—we have this false divide between “traditionalists” and “reformers.” I think the traditionalists are trying to put first things first: examine and re-embrace First Principles, while the reformers are more interested in expanding the Party than they are teaching and winning hearts and minds with actual conservative principles. (If that is NOT what reformers are actually trying to do, then they need to change the way they’re describing their purpose. It’s their own fault that we’re interpreting them as political appeasers.)