Ross Douthat’s New York Times column this weekend, Good Populism, Bad Populism, deserves a mention in this space. In it, he reminds us of some very positive developments on the right. An excerpt:
“The key figure has been Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, whose antiwar conservatism has kicked off a post-Iraq foreign policy debate that the party desperately needed, and whose forays into issues like sentencing reform and drug policy have raised the possibility of a national Republican Party that’s smart as well as tough on crime.
But it hasn’t just been Paul turning populism into policy. This spring, Senator David Vitter of Louisiana, nobody’s idea of a moderate, became the Republican face of a financial reform effort aimed at addressing the problem of “too big to fail” banks. And then just last week, Paul’s frequent ally Mike Lee, the junior senator from Utah, took the floor at the American Enterprise Institute to offer a tax-reform proposal that would actually help middle-class families rather than mostly cut taxes on the investor class.”
There are a lot of interesting policy ideas floating around. For example, here are 5 creative ways to stimulate job growth.
Douthat’s column, of course, juxtaposes these important calls for conservative policy reform with less salutary developments. (The ‘bad populism’ is what I had in mind when I criticized populist rhetoric this summer.)
One of the many problems with what Douthat laments as the “perpetual cycle of outrage and disillusionment” on the right, is that it drowns out the really innovative solutions conservatives are, in fact, developing and proposing.