The end is near for our Golden Age of Republican Party rule. The first blow came in 2006, when horrified voters kicked the GOP back to minority status in Congress. And, come November, Republicans may emerge from elections without a veto-proof Senate and without one of their own demagogues occupying the White House.
If the party of limited government is to survive, warns Michael Gerson, it will have to ditch that whole “limited government” marketing brand. Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan’s harsh rhetoric about “welfare queens”—all of that is an embarrassment.
Instead, the GOP needs to embrace “idealism,” both on the home front and abroad. Promote social justice and expand government programs for the disadvantaged, the poor, the old, minorities, and immigrants. Flex those foreign-policy muscles when it comes to bad people living in other parts of the world. Build up the government for the common good—not our common good, but the world’s. Do all this, but don’t do it as Democrats would—do it the Republican way, the compassionate-conservative way.
We haven’t heard much about compassionate conservatism since September 11, but it has been there all along, Gerson says, overshadowed by war. It should be noted that Gerson served as a speechwriter for Bush; coincidentally, he has peppered his book...