Monday, November 3, 2008

Are Intellectuals Allowed In The Republican Party?

Perhaps not in the state party anyway.

I realize that that's not exactly what Robin Smith is saying, but it's close enough for discussion purposes. Plus, she's never been the greatest communicator in the world, so you kind of have to read between the lines to get her real meaning. I think I do.

I've said it before; I'll say it again: a political party needs intellectual energy to remain viable. Intellectuals develop ideas; ideas become policy options; policy optons become messages; messages become campaign themes; campaign themes attract voters; voters award parties with their votes.

To choose simplistic populism over intellectually-oriented conservatism is to choose George Wallace over George Will. George Will may not have won any elections himself, but the intellectual tradition of which he was (and remains) a significant part makes up a vital part of the national center-right coalition the GOP relies on every four years. George Wallace did win elections, but later on he himself repudiated much of what he had once built his political career.

You want to purge intellectuals from your ranks (or simply make clear that they are unwelcome, which amounts to the same thing)? You do so at your own peril.