Are conservatives out of ideas?

By Megan McArdle

Liberals got made when this question was asked about them four years ago. But I'll admit it--in my opinion, the conservatarian coalition is basically out of ammo. A basic commitment to free markets was enough to hold the coalition together through communism and into the current decade. But "tax cuts are awesome" is not the universal solution to every problem, and moreover, they're totally unaffordable thanks to entitlements. (Obama's plans are totally unaffordable too, for the same reason, but that's a rant for another day).

There is, however, a nascent optimism in the conservative and libertarian policy worlds. The last five years have been pretty demoralizing. Now I'm seeing more and more people who are actually looking forward to going into the wilderness for a little while, where they can get their heads together without having to worry about the intellectual compromises of actual politics. There's disgust at certain policies that they can't stop, like the revolting farm bill. But people are kind of excited about figuring out what the next big thing is.

Nor are they particularly worried that they will be kept out of the promised land for forty years. After all, four years ago we were talking about a permanent Republican majority.

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