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GOP traditionalists vs. reformers

Who will write the next chapter for American conservatives?

The Bush chapter of the Republican Party is closing, said Jonah Goldberg in the Los Angeles Times, and "the fight to write the next one has begun." On one side are traditional conservatives and Reaganites, "who believe that the party desperately needs to get back to the basics: limited government, low taxes, and strong defense." On the other side are reformists who insist that reform is the only way to win back middle-class voters.

The traditionalists will probably win the first round, said David Brooks in The New York Times. The party will "probably veer right in the years ahead, and suffer more defeats." Then Reformist donors and organizers will emerge, "and the cycle of conservative ascendance will begin again."

The problem for Republicans is that they're out of touch with the country, said Eugene Robinson in The Washington Post. They disagree with most Americans on abortion; they spout "xenophobic" immigration rhetoric that turns off increasingly numerous Hispanic voters; and "pork-loving Republicans in Congress" suddenly recall they're budget hawks just when massive spending is needed to save the economy.

When Republicans "stared into an electoral abyss" after Barry Goldwater's crushing defeat in 1964, said Henry Olsen in The Wall Street Journal, Ronald Reagan pointed out that it's liberal values that diverge from the American consensus, while conservatism's "war for freedom" is what the country's all about. "One thing is certain: A conservatism that abandons freedom is not American; and a conservatism that ignores reality will not win."

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