Thursday, 7 May 2009

Republicans learning from David Cameron?

Joe Scarborough, presenter of MSNBC's Morning Joe and former Florida GOP Representative has a new book out and it is the first sign of a Republican actually seeking to take hold of the post-Obama agenda. A synopsis of his argument appears in this week's Time Magazine. He argues rightly that there is a philosophical pragmatism to conservatism (though strangely quotes William F Buckley in support) and it has ditched this in favour of a more ideological approach in recent years.

The easy and self-indulgent argument to make- and Scarborough partly falls for this- is that the Bush administration's big government conservatism took the Right away from its core principles. But Scarborough, though seduced by this and failing the acknowledge the degree to which America has changed demographically (more ethnically diverse and western) and, consequently politically, does manage to move beyond this. He calls for a conservatism that combines fiscal rectitude with environmental concern.

As is the case in the UK and Scarborough was explicit in articulating that Cameronism is at the forefront of his thinking on Meet the Press last Sunday, there is a clever political positioning exercise going on. It is interesting that there is starting to be an ideas exchange between the US and the UK on the Right which initially is flowing from the latter to the former. If the Republicans move in this direction Obama will be placed under greater political and electoral pressure. Will they go in that direction? Well, it's interesting that Tom Ridge is looking like throwing his hat into the ring in Pennsylvania folowoing the defection to the Democrats of Arlen Specter as the type of more moderate conservative voice that could help to re-define the party.

Whether it's successful or not, Joe Scarborough, though based on slightly self-serving analysis, has signalled a different political direction for Republicans. Can they follow?

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