Saturday, November 8, 2008

It's Worth a Shot!

So apparently the Republican Party is having an identity crisis, and a bunch of Republicans have put together a website asking for suggestions about new directions for the party. I have no illusions that this will produce any noticeable change in any direction that I would support, but this might be a pretty good opportunity to get some good ideas out into the public discourse. Accordingly, I wrote out the following suggestion, titled "Focus on decentralization and pluralism":

Republicans know that the federal government can't solve all of our problems. But this has all too often come across as a view that the problems that Democrats seek to solve are not worrisome, or do not deserve to be addressed in an organized way. Standing in opposition to humanitarianism and compassion is a sure recipe for failure.

So instead, a different way of saying the same thing is to focus on decentralization and pluralism. Basically, the idea here is that the federal government doesn't need to be the one to solve social problems, and in fact it shouldn't be. Federal planners necessarily lack specific knowledge of particular circumstances in different areas of the country, and this often hamstrings their capacity to make decisions that reflect the specific needs of different communities. And as different regions of the country are often characterized by very different values, some policies which are seen to be morally necessary in some areas might be thought to be unacceptable in other areas.

By adopting a position centered on embracing differences between cultural groups, and acknowledging difficulties faced by even the most well-meaning officials, the Republican party could stake out a clear distinction between the central planning-oriented policies of the Democratic party without discounting the humanitarian elements of those policies. In fact, because a program like the one discussed here would actually promote the Democrats' goals better than would their own policies, it seems like a win-win strategy. Further, a focus on decentralization and pluralism would embody the promotion of competition and limitation of government scope that have traditionally characterized the Republican party.

If anyone actually reads this, it would be kind of cool if a bunch of people went over to the site and voted for this suggestion. It might be an effective way of getting our ideas out to the general public, and if it doesn't work, who cares? It's worth a shot!

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