After losing a national election a party reassesses where it stands and what it must do to recoup its fortunes. It is now the Republicans’ turn. One early conclusion is the necessity to return to a vision of the party as “a big tent.” More specifically, and with the debacle of the 1992 convention in mind, the prevailing wisdom is that the party must avoid identification with the religious right. But not everyone agrees.
Patrick Buchanan continues to elaborate the themes of his convention speech, and in “The Coming Conservative Century,” an essay in the Wall Street Journal last February, Irving Kristol advises Republicans to disregard conventional wisdom and actively welcome “religious conservatives.” To be sure, “[r]eligious people always create problems since their ardor tends to outrun the limits of politics in a constitutional democracy.” Nonetheless, the G.O.P. “must work at accommodating these people,” for “by embracing them and shaping
their thinking” it will avoid the possibility of a third party and a “restructuring of American
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