Monday, December 14, 2009

I'm a "Whole Foods Republican?"

There's an excellent article in today's Wall Street Journal on who the GOP should be courting. The author suggests that "a more enlightened approach would be to go after college-educated voters, to make the GOP safe for smarties again."

Now I'm not much for being pigeon-holed into a group, but in this instance Mr. Petrilli does an excellent (if obviously incomplete) job of describing of where I stand politically and culturally:

What's needed is a full-fledged effort to cultivate "Whole Foods Republicans"—independent-minded voters who embrace a progressive lifestyle but not progressive politics. These highly-educated individuals appreciate diversity and would never tell racist or homophobic jokes; they like living in walkable urban environments; they believe in environmental stewardship, community service and a spirit of inclusion. And yes, many shop at Whole Foods, which has become a symbol of progressive affluence but is also a good example of the free enterprise system at work. (Not to mention that its founder is a well-known libertarian who took to these pages to excoriate ObamaCare as inimical to market principles.)

What makes these voters potential Republicans is that, lifestyle choices aside, they view big government with great suspicion. There's no law that someone who enjoys organic food, rides his bike to work, or wants a diverse school for his kids must also believe that the federal government should take over the health-care system or waste money on thousands of social programs with no evidence of effectiveness. Nor do highly educated people have to agree that a strong national defense is harmful to the cause of peace and international cooperation.

He goes on to suggest that the GOP reject the anti-intellectualism of Sarah Palin and W. (I think he's a bit off on Bush. GWB was a voracious reader as evidenced by the annual reading contest between he and Karl Rove. In my opinion, W was intellectually proficient, but was terribly inarticulate when it came to stating his positions verbally to an audience.) While Palin is attractive, well meaning and principled and steadfast in her views, I just can't help but look at her and think "Why aren't you smarter?"

I blame Ronald Reagen for this. He purposefully built his "golly shucks" image for political and brand purposes, yet he was an articulate and intellectual powerhouse that defined the conservative movement as much as William F. Buckley. Since then, Republicans have tried fashion themselves in this Reagan image with lackluster results—of which Palin and Bush are prime examples. That dog doesn't hunt these days, partner.

I'm going to cut myself off at Tangent Pass here and end by saying that Mr. Petrilli is dead on with this article. The GOP has to reach out to people like myself, my wife and assorted others who are in hiding. We are smart and we don't like anti-intellectual people representing the party most in line with our ideals.

So I guess that makes me a "Whole Foods Republican." I'm good with this. Maybe even a little proud.

Now, if you're listening, Michael Steele*, give me more Bobby Jindals or Tim Pawlentys or Mitt Romneys. You can keep your Sarah Palins.

*Since I only have 3.5 readers, probably not.

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