Diversity Strengthens GOP

David Brooks argues that the Republican party’s strength is its diversity:

We’re living in the age of the liberal copycat. Al Franken tries to create a liberal version of Rush. Al Gore announced his TV network yesterday. Many Democrats have tried to create a liberal Heritage Foundation. The theory is that liberals must create their own version of the conservative pyramid. Conservatives have formed their foundations, think tanks and media outlets into a ruthlessly efficient message machine. Liberals, on the other hand, have been losing because they are too fractious, too nuanced and, well, too freethinking. Much as I admire my friends on the left for ingeniously explaining their recent defeats without really considering the possibility that maybe the substance of their ideas is the problem, I have to say that this explanation for conservative success and liberal failure is at odds with reality.

Conservatives have not triumphed because they have built a disciplined and efficient message machine. Conservatives have thrived because they are split into feuding factions that squabble incessantly. As these factions have multiplied, more people have come to call themselves conservatives because they’ve found one faction to agree with.

In the early days of National Review, many of the senior editors didn’t even speak to one another. Whittaker Chambers declared that the writings of Ayn Rand, a hero of the more libertarian right, reeked of fascism and the gas chambers. Rand called National Review “the worst and most dangerous magazine in America.” It’s been like that ever since – neocons arguing with theocons, the old right with the new right, internationalists versus isolationists, supply siders versus fiscal conservatives. The major conservative magazines – The Weekly Standard, National Review, Reason, The American Conservative, The National Interest, Commentary – agree on almost nothing.

Quite true.

Indeed, this “unity” argument is at odds with the idea, often propounded by both the Left and the libertarian elements within the GOP, that the party’s dominance by its religious faction is going to be its ruin.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Just Me says:

    I think the GOP really is a big tent, the DNC tries to be, but is more like a bunch of little tents set up on the same fairground, than one big tent.

    I also think it is wishful thinking that the religious are somehow going to ruin the GOP, for one thing the truly freaky right religious people are pretty marginalized-and marginalized by conservative Christians as much as the secular conservatives.

    The GOP does a good job of bringing people together on the core conservative issues, and tolerating those that they differ on. There doesn’t seem to be much toleration for those who step outside the party line in the DNC.