I’d totally participate in this.
A lot of liberals are waiting, hoping for an absolute conservative crack-up after the election. This is totally understandable, and I’d be lying if I said it wouldn’t be delicious to see the Republican party fall to pieces.
But I’d also be lying if I said there weren’t aspects of conservatism that liberals should adopt, or at least that they could learn from if a proper debate was had. And I think one of the interesting things to watch in an Obama administration, should we be lucky enough to have one, is the extent to which his post-partisan motions are followed through. Because a good Obama administration would take some dramatic steps away from Republican orthodoxy, but it would also push some policies that are decidedly conservative.
Democrats will say, rightly, that time and political capital are scarce in Washington, and so Obama must set his priorities, and because he’s a Democrat they should be Democratic priorities. Which is absolutely true. But government is more than the big policy priorities. It’s also a million little decisions made across a wide bureaucracy. It’s a thousand pieces of legislation. And there are plenty of opportunities to embrace conservative ideas when they’re right.
But then one has to realize that while I, as a blogging wonk, can muse about an ideal government where two worthy ideologies battle to create an optimal public policy, Obama is a political leader. And it’s not his job to reach out and push good conservative ideas anymore than he has to. It’s the responsibility of the opposition party to find its good ideas and put itself in a position to defend them. And it’s nice to think that there are conservative intellectuals out there that could accomplish that.
On the other hand, there are a lot of ugly elements in the GOP, and it’s hard to imagine a tent that holds the aforementioned intellectuals and those ugly elements (and that doesn’t look exactly like the current GOP). So we’ll see how it all shakes out.
But yes, I welcome any and all good conservatives to the mission for better urban policy, and I’m always happy to explain why they should join us.