The Next Right

Jon Henke, Patrick Ruffini, and Soren Dayton are launching a new initiative they’ve dubbed “The Next Right.” It’s apparently yet another attempt to create a right-of-center counterpart of the Netroots. Not yet launched, it purports to be “an online community for change-minded activists and hardcore political junkies in the conservative movement.”

All three of the founders agree that a lot has changed since 1980 and that the GOP is no longer the party of Reagan but rather, as Soren puts it, “at a transitional point.” Jon laments that the Iron Law of Oligarchy has set in and that, “Much of the DC-based infrastructure on the Right – Republican politicians, the advocacy organizations and non-profits, the massive, campaign-oriented fundraising machines that spring up in each cycle – has become the entrenched bureaucracy seeking its own promulgation.”

They also agree that the Republicans have fallen way behind the Democrats in reaching out via the Internet. As Patrick writes, “Netroots activists on the left have built critical mass around an idea that regular people on the Internet can get their hands dirty and remix Democratic politics. They not only raise money. They recruit candidates. They fund full-time investigative journalism to ambush Republicans.”

Beyond that, the three admit they have little agreement. That’s not surprising, really. Jon’s a neo-libertarian who has worked for George Allen and Fred Thompson. Pat’s a longtime Republican activist who has worked for George W. Bush and Rudy Guiliani. Soren briefly worked for John McCain.

And therein, methinks, lies the problem. While most Republican-leaning intellectuals think the party needs to change after seven years of Bush and after a GOP-majority Congress became the kings of pork and fiscal irresponsibility, there’s not a whole lot of consensus on the nature of that change.

Sure, we want leaders with a gift for communication and inspiration, as we had with Reagan. We’re tired of earmarks and “politics as usual” and all the standard complaints. But there’s not a whole lot of agreement beyond that.

  • Should we continue a foreign policy of “American greatness” and trying to democratize the heathens through military power? Or should we retrench to a more traditional Realist posture?
  • Should we get more serious about the social issues and improving public morality? Or should we become more libertarian, get government out of the bedroom, and focus instead on economic policy?
  • What do we do about immigration? Social Security? Health care? Sustainable energy? Terrorism?

Our choices on those issues will determine the future of the party and radically impact its demographics.

The Netroots have been united by opposition to Bush, the neocons, and the war. It’s not at all apparent to me what it is that will unite the “Rightroots” (or whatever term we coin).

To the extent that The Next Right is a platform for having this discussion, it’ll be interesting. My guess, though, is that we’ll continue talking past one another.

FILED UNDER: Blogosphere, Politics 101, , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor 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.

Comments

  1. Bithead says:

    And therein, methinks, lies the problem. While most Republican-leaning intellectuals think the party needs to change after seven years of Bush and after a GOP-majority Congress became the kings of pork and fiscal irresponsibility, there’s not a whole lot of consensus on the nature of that change

    The one positive one miht draw from that is that the left is in similar disarray. If their experience os of any indication, your assesment as to this effort will likely prove correct, I’m afraid. And the responses Henke is getting just now… my own included, bear this out.




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  2. yetanotherjohn says:

    I would say that absent the “I hate Bush” meme, the left is likewise far from unified. So the answer may be that if the dems win in november, the rallying point of agreement is plain. The problem is that as opposition to Clinton and Bush in turn has shown is that such opposition is not the highest standard nor that effective at persuading those without a koolaide ring around their lips.




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  3. Dave Schuler says:

    I think a key problem is that small government conservatism is fine as an organizing principle but not nearly so good as a governing principle. The problem is one of incentives. Too many small government conservatives have no interest in making government work better.

    That’s why I prefer the principle of subsidiarity to that of minarchism.




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  4. Bithead says:

    Dave;

    The problem with Government working better is that it starts being seen as a valid way of deal with everything.

    Do you know what the most efficient, best working government in the history of mankind was? Nazi Germany. Sorry for the comparison,(I’ll annoy the Godwin purists, I’m sure) but there it is.

    On that basis, and as a matter of principle, (there’s that word again, too) I’m not convinced in the least that a better working government is the answer.




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  5. Triumph says:

    It’s not at all apparent to me what it is that will unite the “Rightroots” (or whatever term we coin).

    This will be easy:

    The liberals’ desire to make everyone gay, UN-loving, Spanish speaking, welfare queens.

    If the axis of Hussein-Pelosi-Frank-Kennedy is in charge, there will be plenty to keep us busy.




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  6. Alex Knapp says:

    Do you know what the most efficient, best working government in the history of mankind was? Nazi Germany.

    No it wasn’t. Nazi Germany had rampant corruption, and its economy pretty weak. It was only the influx of resources from conquest that enabled it to keep going as long as it did.

    Not to mention the fact that different parts of its government were such rivals that they would injure and kill members of opposing factions. Additionally, it’s totalitarian structure drove out its best and brightest minds in favor of those with more conformist leanings. Germany’s faltering political structure was apparent even prior to the invasion of Poland.




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  7. Bithead says:

    Well, Alex, I was actually pointing up a time prior to the Polish invasion, but your point is taken.

    And don’t governments all eventually end up working to minatin their own existance and even comfort as opposed to serving their original purpose? Germany certainly fell to that rule, eventually.

    I must admit some curiosity, though; What government, either historical or current, would you consder to be the best working government?




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  8. Michael says:

    Ah, yet another top-down approach to building a bottom-up organization. Seriously, what is it about the internet that the Right doesn’t seem to get? This ain’t the field of dreams, you don’t build the platform then expect participants to suddenly materialize.

    Also, who decided that the Netroots was united on any issue? We didn’t have to be united to form a productive organization, you just have to be motivated.

    If the right keeps trying to build a “Rightroots” by creating a platform based on a unified opinion, they’ll keep wasting their time and money. People first, platform second, unity never.




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  9. G.A.Phillips says:

    The liberals’ desire to make everyone gay, UN-loving, Spanish speaking, welfare queens.

    Dang bro it’s good to see you finally see the light and that or that your also a fan of the Mission Earth series, got to love that L. Ron Hubbard!




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  10. Michael says:

    Dang bro it’s good to see you finally see the light

    Whoosh!




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  11. Alex Knapp says:

    I must admit some curiosity, though; What government, either historical or current, would you consder to be the best working government?

    Wow. That’s a toughie. Do you mean in terms of general efficiency, or in terms of policy? Because for all of its faults, the Administrative Law setup that we have in this country is pretty damned good. It’s relatively corruption free and generally (but not always) user friendly. But that said, it does enforce a lot of policies that I don’t like. Much like the French health care system, which is rather well run and I can admit that despite the fact that I’ve no desire to have a government health care system.

    I’ve also always liked the ancient Icelandic system, but it’s not very scalable.




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  12. Bithead says:

    Wow. That’s a toughie. Do you mean in terms of general efficiency, or in terms of policy?

    Heh… You’re starting to get my point, I think. Sorry for dumping that in your lap, but you were handy.

    Point I’m making…and your response made it for me, as I expected… is that question needs be asked along with the question of what constitutes good policy and what constitutes governmental efficiency. In both cases, measurements would need to be set. I’m willing to bet we can discuss those for years, among just the regulars of this blog, and never resolve a one of them. Such a discussion, you see, would force us to deal with the fundimenatal issue of individual rights vs the ‘greater good’. You know what a mess we’ll end up with there, even without addressing the underlying culture as I’ve attempted to occasionally.




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  13. mq says:

    I think that if a Dem (either Dem) makes it to the White House the right-wing netroots will form in much the same way the left-wing netroots did. We’ll all have something in common, and that will be bitching about the President and Democrats in general 🙂 I don’t think it’s something where someone has to stand up and say “OK, we’re building out own netroots now”, I think it will happen in an organic way much like the Dem netroots did.

    I do agree with the thought that the only thing holding the Dem netroots together is a hatred of Bush. Exit question: what happens if Obama wins in November? With a Dem controlled House, Senate, and White House who will they blame when things go wrong? Whatever will they spend their time complaining about? Who will they smear?




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  14. anjin-san says:

    Do you know what the most efficient, best working government in the history of mankind was? Nazi Germany.

    Where is any evidence to support this? What does “best working” mean?

    Bit… Nazi Germany was a looter government well before Poland. The were looting their own citizens, the Jewish ones at least.

    Germany certainly fell to that rule, eventually

    Eventually? Nazi Germany only existed for what, 12 years? They were corrupt thugs pretty much from day one. It is not something that evolved over time.

    Another item that would lead me to question the quality of government in Nazi Germany was the habit of promoting incompetents who’s main job qualification was blind loyalty. We have seen how well thats worked here in the last eight years.

    The Nazis were brutal and unchecked by law or morality. That allowed them to accomplish certain goals rapidly and without much in the way of opposition. But to argue that they had “the most efficient, best working government” in history is nonsense.

    They were very good at a small range of things that mostly involved violence and degradation on a massive scale. They were able to harness the considerable talents and energy of the German people. Thats about it…




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  15. mannning says:

    Severl of our Administrations have declared war on the qusi or actually independent agencies of our government. There are over 100 of them at my last count in existence, each of which has a constituency, a bureauocracy, a big budget, and legislative founders. Their mission statements often overlap, and turf wars consume lots of their time and energy. Consolidations have been tried, but are usually defeated by the bureaucrats rather handily. If I understand the meaning of subsidiarity, here is the best example I can think of, yet it is virtually guaranteed that this melange will be wasteful of the taxpayer’s dollars. What to do?




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  16. mannning says:

    Well, I was grossly underestimating this problem.
    According to the LSU Library there are:
    Boards, Commissions and Committees……. 63
    Executive…………………………. 834
    Independent……………………….. 132
    Judicial………………………….. 45
    Legislative……………………….. 79
    Quasi-Official…………………….. 24




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  17. anjin-san says:

    Because for all of its faults, the Administrative Law setup that we have in this country is pretty damned good.

    Thats a good point. Actually you can make a very strong argument for our government. Stable for over 200 years. Peaceful transition of power.

    It is certain we have had our share of bad government (see Bush administration for an example). But overall, our system has worked well. I am concerned about the assault on civil liberties that has taken place in the 21st century , as well as soaring salaries and benefit for government employees (250k a year for a fire captain in bankrupt Vallejo, CA)




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  18. Our Paul says:

    James: This one is to honor your courtesy; two days ago you moved a comment I had miss-posted to its rightful thread. Only a few points, as it is late at night.

    First of all, if you read the 17 odd comments before this one, not a single one addresses any issue you listed in your three bullet points!!! A remarkable performance, you were specifically asking for input. I think it points to the problems Ruffini et all will encounter.

    Consider my outlooks center left, so what I say will be colored by that political persuasion. Bluntly, I believe that in a complex world government has to have a seat at the table. Ain’t nobody else with clout that is going to speak for the people.

    That said, if the conservatives want a seat at the table, they are going to have to set ideology aside, and listen to the people they wish to govern. A perusal of your bullet points indicates you have done that. The response by your 17 other correspondents indicate they have not done that…

    First bullet point: Most polls indicate 60 to 65% of the populous want us out of Iraq. There is a growing awareness of the cost and burden of maintaining multiple troops and foreign bases (over 800) overseas. You cannot continue the current policy, the bank is broken; the people know it…

    Second bullet point: The populous expects the government to solve social issues. Who is going to solve poverty, health care for poor children, adequate housing, etc? Jews, Christians, Muslims, and assorted other religions have tried to “improve public morality” and failed miserably. A conservative government is going to succeed where over centuries religion has failed? Get out of the bedroom is you want a majority of votes.

    Third Bullet point: The populous has spoken on Social Security, embrace a corrective plan that does not include benefit cuts and you will draw voters. The populous views Health Care a major problem, you have to come up with a plan. McCain’s more of the same ain’t going to cut it…

    Gasp, that is it… Was there not a movie titled “Sleeping with the Enemy”?




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  19. Ron Berch says:

    What we really need is a political party that puts America before Israel. If there were a true Republican party that were more isolationist, I would be all for it. Right now both parties seemed to be hijacked by Neocon/AIPAC elements and that is something surely against the interests of big business and America.

    If and when Bush and the Neocons attack Iran before the year ends, oil will skyrocket out of control and this economy will tank like it never ever has before. I just hope saner minds in the Republican party prevail, the Democrats bowed under pressure from AIPAC to disallow congress to vote prior to an Iran attack. Its all in the Neocons hands and they dont care about America, thats for sure.




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