American conservatives are engaged in a generational struggle for the future. In the political press, with its preference for trivialization over ideas, this fight is portrayed as a mere clash of personalities jockeying for power, with Breitbart News chairman and former White House adviser Stephen K. Bannon in one corner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in the other.
But this battle is bigger than the posturing between the two men and their aides. Its stakes are higher than who won the Alabama special election. On one side are McConnell & Co.’s tired grab bag of 1980s-era slogans—free trade, supply-side economics and American exceptionalism—that, although good ideas, seem to have lost their sense of urgency. On the other is a vibrant new conservatism that takes on the challenge posed by an ambitious, bellicose China, the moral imperative of a pro-citizen immigration policy and the necessity of trade policies that strengthen the middle class rather than undermine its economic foundations.
Under the McConnell regime, too many Beltway Republicans continue to see the base of their own party as the problem, a resource to be used in even-numbered years to fill campaign coffers and pull levers—a necessary evil, not a participant citizenry. In this context, many Republican incumbents look conservative only in the sense of being cautious and resistant to change . . .
Read the rest at the Washington Post.