Ramesh Ponnuru on Grand New Party

It should go without saying that Ramesh Ponnuru was a big influence on Grand New Party — in a National Review article on family-friendly tax reform, he took us to task for advocating a complex system of baby bonuses. And though I still have a soft spot for pro-natalist policies, it was clear that his criticisms were very sound. We proceeded to enthusiastically embrace him plan. Now, on The Corner, he’s written a post that I find very encouraging.

Their ideas have been described as “Clintonian triangulation from the right.” But people often misunderstand that parallel. They think Clinton chose the views of swing voters over those of Democratic voters. In a lot of cases, though, the liberal orthodoxies he abandoned had little support even among rank-and-file Democrats. Democratic voters liked the idea of “ending welfare as we know it.” They liked his slapdown of Sister Souljah’s remarks. Clinton had to push aside or change certain Democratic elites, not to change the worldview of his voting base.

Similarly, the Republican rank-and-file would, in the main, be willing to support the policies that D&S have in mind. A pro-family tax reform, for example, would have more support from those Republican voters than it has yet gotten from the conservative intelligentsia. On some issues the Republican rank-and-file would probably be willing to go further than I think wise. I imagine price controls for drugs would poll well among Republican voters, for example. In my new role as the elder statesman of the young turks—Brooks gave me the position in his column today—I will do my part to prevent populist excesses.

When I recently learned that Ramesh is barely in his thirties, I was shocked. You have to understand that I’ve been reading his byline for so many years that I assumed he was in his 70s, youthful appearance aside. (A portrait of Dorian Ponnuru, perhaps?)