I make no bones about it: I’m a Conservative and a Republican. If I ever think think the Party is a lost cause, I could abandon it, but current circumstances don’t put me there. Not even close.
I read with some appreciation Cal Thomas’ column  on this subject last week. His comments regarding the romanticism of Reagan Conservatism is right on. More importantly, he hit the key thought that I’d like to shout from the housetops:
Contemporary conservatism has mostly been about saying “no” to the liberal agenda. Suppose conservatives instead begin to circumvent liberals by applying better ideas to achieve ends liberals and conservatives claim to seek?
Don’t get me wrong… there have been some ideas floated around, but the fact is that there really isn’t a consensus among those of us that proclaim to be “conservatives” on the important issues of our day. The problems we see with the direction that the Left is taking seems to make it difficult to get around a solid message that could sound like anything other than “not what we’re hearing from Clinton/McCain/Obama”. I did appreciate the fact that Fred Thompson promoted a vision based on a principle based view of issues. This seems to be consistent with the book that Cal is promoting by David Frum titled “Comeback: Conservatism That Can Win Again”.
Frum promotes a set of solutions to the current issues we discuss, with a practical view of what Government, Politicians and the President can and cannot really do.
The range of ideas that Cal references from the book include creative approaches to taxation, immigration, terrorism and the Armed Forces, and my personal favorite: China.
Cal adds his 2 cents in an area that we’ve been promoting here at The Conservative Reader: micro-lending. He does not address an interesting point, however, that I will.
Republicans have a keen opportunity on the topic of poverty, and micro-lending has the potential to be a huge win-win if done right.
In his book, “Banker To The Poor”, Mohammad Yunus not only tells the story of how he and his Grameen Bank  helped pull thousands out of abject poverty in Bangladesh and other third-world countries over the past few decades, but also addresses the opportunity to leverage this concept in developed countries like the US. He even made a pitch to Bill Clinton while he was governor of Arkansas. A pilot project was started there and he was supposedly going to bring it with him to the White House, but never did anything with it. Yunus tries to explain this away in his book, but I’m convinced that the plan interfered with Bill’s long-term relationships and opportunities too much to make it palatable for him or his “friends”. Frankly, micro-lending likely does not have real friends in the Liberal scene in Washington because the concept behind it is to help foster self-sufficiency. The Washington Left cannot tolerate losing control of the poor that way. As long as the poor are individually dependent on the government, they will be a solid base of support for Democrats.
This is such a great example of where we as Conservatives can find our wheelhouse. Conservatives are always talking about how the poor need to become self-sufficient. We occasionally come up with ideas to help with that, but nothing as solid as micro-lending. Micro-lending can bring a key financial tool (credit) to those that can benefit most and are most likely to repay (because they know this is their only chance). The models for micro-lending that Yunus has promoted includes consumer training and peer-based accountability. Some of these ideas (as he has asserted himself) will need to be refined for our culture, but I think we can succeed with this as a national program.
The major point here is that we need to get some clear ideas on how to help our country, as Cal Thomas says “new ideas based on old principles”, and work through the best processes to see those ideas come to fruition. The only practical forum I see for doing this is the Republican Party. Even if the party overall is leaning left, we can help to right it. This includes getting our ideas out to the blog-o-sphere, get them to our party officials on a local level and national level, get them to our representatives at every level of government. Do what we can to participate in every step of the process. If we commit to working the whole process, we may may make a bigger impact than we can imagine.
Frum’s book goes on my reading list. Soon as I’m done, you’ll hear from me.
H/T Des Moines Register.