This past Friday, while introducing his screed about Democratic opposition to CAFTA, Charles Krauthammer called the Democrats "A Party without Ideas." Krauthammer writes that Democrats' "one remaining idea" is "to hang on to the status quo at all costs," but he seems oblivious to the fact that Republican conceptual coffers aren't exactly overflowing.
While I agree with Krauthammer's implication that new ideas are important to a political party, I suggest that the ability to articulate those ideas is at least partially dependent on time and resources. For a party that is working full-time to maintain the gains of the twentieth century (labor laws, environmental protection, human rights, civil equality, Social Security, Medicare, etc.) against the onslaught of the Right, forward-looking thought can plausibly be seen as a luxury.
Progress is a difficult idea to promote while the opposition is strenuously trying to drag us all backwards into the past.
As far as being "without ideas," Joshua Holland calls Krauthammer's bluff in "Manifest Destiny:"
The word 'privatization' was first coined in 1948 when people were talking about nationalizing colonial enterprises. That was a few years after FA Hayek wrote The Road to Serfdom. Barry Goldwater wrote The Conscience of a Conservative in 1960 and Milton Friedman spit out Capitalism and Freedom in 1962. I defy Krauthammer or any other right-winger to name one idea of today's conservative movement that wasn't articulated in that era. I'm not talking about new spins, I mean new ideas.
Like Holland, I'm not about to launch into an extended comparison of "free trade" rhetoric versus plutocratic reality. After reading little more than faint echoes of the books he mentioned in the writings of current conservatives, though, I wonder: where are the new Republican ideas?