The GOP Yawns At Domestic Policy

by Patrick Appel

Robert Stacy McCain doesn't think that Republicans care about elections. Frum differs:

I think conservatives do pay attention to elections. What is neglected is governance. How much do we discuss what went wrong with the US economy in the Bush years? If tax cuts are essential to pulling the economy out of recession, why didn’t Bush-enacted tax cuts prevent the US economy from tumbling into recession in the first place? Why did incomes stagnate between 2000 and 2007? Why did health cost inflation suddenly accelerate after 2001? What went wrong in the energy markets? How can we do better next time?

Interest in these questions varies from slight to negligible. Even our leading think tanks prefer culture war to policy analysis.

Frum is half-right. In my experience, liberal think tanks and intellectuals dominate most domestic issues while conservative think tanks and intellectuals dominate foreign policy. This was made clear during the health care debate; there were certainly conservative pundits arguing against "Obamacare" but conservative health care experts were seriously outgunned. The opposite is also true: liberal foreign policy experts were undoubtedly outnumbered during the lead-up to the Iraq war.

Democrats have traditionally held an advantage on domestic issues while Republicans have traditionally held an advantage on foreign policy. The intelligentsia of both parties reflect this divide.