by David Frum
Yesterday I posted a bleg asking readers of AndrewSullivan.com and FrumForum.com for help writing a one-sentence description of a modernized, reformed conservatism. We've had a stunning response: almost 200 suggestions, via email from AndrewSullivan readers and in the comments section at FrumForum. They are enormously helpful, and I am very grateful. Let me share some of these ideas, and then offer a response.
To remind: here is my first draft, for which I asked for improvements:
A reality-based, culturally modern, socially inclusive and environmentally responsible politics that supports free markets, limited government and a peaceful American-led world order.
Some readers offered alternatives that - while superbly concise - were just too general: they describe the professed world view of almost all American political groupings within the ultra-socialist and ultra-libertarian extremes:
Meritocracy tempered by compassion.
Free markets with a referee to ensure fair play.
Others focused too much on what we're trying to reject, not on what we're trying to accomplish.
Restoring sanity to the Republican party.
Some just made me laugh:
We want the country promised to us by our grade-school social studies textbooks.
Killing bad Muslims with upper-class tax cuts.
Not just for white people any more, we promise!
Some offered very helpful line-edits for greater precision.
My phrase "socially inclusive" is clumsy. I wanted to find a way to stress that Republicans and conservatives needed to pay more attention to the economic interests of the less affluent. But enough of you were baffled by the term that clearly some other phrasing is called for.
Two readers objected to the phrase "reality-based" as snarky. It was not intended as such, but I agree that "evidence-based" is better.
Some readers raised more fundamental criticisms. I'll turn to those in a second post.