British PM Gordon Brown got whacked in the UK’s recent elections and part of the reason is that David Cameron recast the stodgy old Tory party into something resembling the scent of a new car. He brought the party to the center where Britain has shifted over the last 20 years thanks to Thatcher and Blair. After toying with decline of civilization themes to little success, Cameron downplayed the social issues. Herein lies the formula worth emulating says Reason’s Mike Moynihan. He may have a point.
It’s getting crowded in the center of British politics.
Even after his stunning local election victory, Cameron continued to burnish his centrist credentials, writing this week in the lefty paper The Independent that “If you care about poverty, if you care about inequality, if you care about the environment-forget about the Labour Party…If you count yourself a progressive, a true progressive, only we can achieve real change.”
Cameron didn’t always consider himself a “true progressive.” When running for Parliament in 2000, he repeatedly dealt the social conservative card, grumbling about legislation that was “anti-family” and warning that it would force the “teaching of homosexuality” into British schools. When he took over the party leadership, Cameron jettisoned the tradition talk and spoke of welcoming gays and lesbians into the party fold, admonishing the Tory old guard for not supporting domestic partnership arrangements. The perpetually peeved Thatcherite Norman Tebbit grumbled that he didn’t think “Tory supporters have gone soft, but I think the Tory leadership believes the electors are too soft to take the hard decisions which the country is now facing.”
Others argue that the dash to the center-the “modernization”-is vindicated by recent electoral success and recent polling data. “The modernisers were right,” Times columnist and former Tory policy wonk Daniel Finkelstein trumpeted after the election. “Their critics were wrong.”
It’s hard to argue with success.
Moynihan ought to know enough about the vagaries of British politics to declare that it’s far too early to claim success. But he sticks to his guns saying the culture wars that once animated the conservatives on the other side of the pond are now passe and soon will be in the United States.
As political scientist Morris Fiorina points out in his book Culture War? The Myth of a Polarized America, both residents of red and blue states are “basically centrists”; American’s aren’t “red” or “blue” but various shades of purple. As conservative commenter David Brooks pointed out in 2001, “Although there are some real differences between Red and Blue America, there is no fundamental conflict.”
Pat Buchanan’s declaration at the 1992 Republican convention that there was a “religious war” raging in America, a “war for the soul” of the country, seems preposterous in retrospect. With a strong majority of Americans supporting Roe v. Wade, a clear majority supporting civil unions for gay couples, and the very real possibility of the country electing an African-American president, it’s time for the Republican Party to borrow from the Tories if they want to recapture the center ground.
Is it worth arguing about a few public dollars for gay youth?
Entire article here: http://www.reason.com/news/sho…