Reform Fantasy

This post reflected a misunderstanding on my part. For history’s sake, it is still below, but I ought to write something more thoughtful on a difficult subject — whether Palin’s reputation as a reformer is deserved or not.

Andrew writes,

So the first reason we have Palin is the Christianist veto, not some reform fantasy that exists in David’s and Ross’s and Reihan’s brilliant heads.

I’ve defended Andrew against a lot of criticism, and I will keep doing it. He is an extremely insightful thinker, he is a forceful and persuasive advocate for the extension and deepening of human rights, he is a beautiful writer. But I do think it’s worth noting that calling the project that David and Ross and I are committed to a reform fantasy is a little unfair. (I won’t say I’m hurt by Andrew’s remarks, because I know he means well and that he sees our business as a brass-knuckle business.) We’ve articulated a set of narratives and frameworks and goals for the Republican party, which informs the advice we give conservatives in various writings. The project is prospective and prescriptive. So calling it a reform fantasy seems odd: it is a vision, it is an argument about the future of a political movement, so yes, it has elements of fantasy, broadly understood. Right now, I am fantasizing about eating the delicious chicken I just ordered from Astor Mediterranean here in Washington, D.C. I’m pretty sure, though, that I’m actually going to eat it within the next five minutes.

But I’m dodging the issue — is this vision for the future of the Republican party fantastic, the product of delusional minds? That’s not the sense I get. I’ve been accused of being off my rocker for many reasons: for singing lustily in the shower, for wearing a top hat on the wrong occasion, etc. But for arguing that the Republican party should stress the interests of working class voters and arguing that modernizing the welfare state and paying close attention to how culture shapes economic outcomes? Well, no. Not until now, at least.

Some believe that the plague of Christianism — a term that has a potentially very broad meaning indeed, extending as it evidently does to the Christian Democratic parties of Europe to Barack Obama — is itself a fantasy. I’m neutral on this point.

I found this passage hard to swallow.

There isn’t much evidence in her term as governor of any major Christianist initiatives or appeals — unless you count her family’s bizarre personal life. But she is, in context, the creation of the Christianist movement, and her appeal is rooted in that subculture.

I wouldn’t know how to argue with this, exactly.