In the wake of the Republican presidential debate, the Wall Street Journal observed that GOP candidates are now trying to win support as either “fighters” or “statesmen.” The fighters concentrate on battling against forces that they fear and resent, while the statesmen promise to build consensus for a reform agenda.
Actually, conservatives demand both: a willingness to fight for principle, and a vision to fix what’s wrong. Another way of contrasting political approaches would be distinguishing between talkers and doers, or between complainers and planners.
In this election, it won’t be enough to denounce the other side; many Americans, perhaps a majority, have come to resent both sides in our polarized politics. The challenge is to persuade those who are deeply disillusioned with American politics, showing it’s possible to bring real change to increase opportunity, improve education and stimulate economic growth. Republicans can only win with programs that are positive, pragmatic and plausible; anger alone is not an agenda.