Where good ideas come from (how ‘modern, not moderate’ became a catchphrase)

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
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Consider this timeline:

1. The morning after the election, I posted this blog: “The GOP needs modernization, not moderation.” A few days later, I penned a column for The Week, titled: “The GOP must become modern — not moderate.”

2. A day or so later, appearing on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” John Heilemann mentioned the phrase. (He must have also used it in a speech.) When someone congratulated him on the line, he graciously sent this tweet:

3. Last Thursday, GOP strategist Brad Todd gave the idea a shout-out on MSNBC’s “The Daily Rundown”:

4. On Sunday, appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers observed: “I don’t think it’s about the Republican Party needing to become more moderate. I really believe it’s the Republican Party becoming more modern.”

5. Yesterday, in a much-ballyhooed CNN.com column, titled “How Republicans can win future elections,” Gov. Bobby Jindal observed: “We need to modernize, not moderate.”


I tell you this for a few reasons. First, as a wise man once told me, there is no humility in blogging.

Second, columnists and pundits are often derided as irrelevant, but this line (which I’m guessing someone else has used prior to 2012) appears to have started in the “opinion leader” world, moved to the political strategist world, and ultimately made its way into the rhetoric of the very top Republican leaders tasked with instituting a significant paradigm shift.

Lastly, if you read this blog (and I’m assuming you do), then it’s good to know you are spending your time at a space that (sometimes, at least) drives the conversation.

So stop by here for conventional wisdom — before it’s conventional. (Disclaimer: I stole that line.)

Matt K. Lewis