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May 23, 2014

Conservatives Offer ‘Room to Grow’

What should a conservative agenda look like? This book begins to answer.

A group of conservative scholars unveiled a book this week that offers policy prescriptions addressing a number of domestic issues currently plaguing the country. “Room to Grow: Conservative Reforms for a Limited Government and a Thriving Middle Class” is a collection of essays that also offers the Republican Party, should they accept it, an opportunity to regain the trust and respect of middle class voters.

It seems Republicans have been rudderless on the national level during recent election cycles (2010 being a notable exception), and much of the country has come to believe the Leftmedia-reinforced myth that the GOP is a rich white-boys club that has nothing to offer except criticisms of Barack Obama. Too often, instead of offering a roadmap to prosperity, the GOP has stood on the sidelines while Democrats have pushed Big Government on the American people.

The Big Government born in Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society” and his “War on Poverty” has been an abject failure. While leftists celebrated the 50th anniversary of LBJ’s signature domestic agenda this week, Mark Alexander tracked its progress and found it to be at the heart of many of the problems facing our nation today. Since the passage of the first pieces of legislation in 1964, government control over the private sector has grown enormously. The results aren’t pretty: Overall workforce employment has dropped, out-of-wedlock births have skyrocketed, and a permanent minority underclass has been established that Democrats now rely on to remain in power. It’s time for some new ideas.

Led by Peter Wehner and Yuval Levin, “Room to Grow” features a number of ideas for attacking the country’s domestic problems. The topics addressed are as follows: health care, K-12 and higher education, the middle class tax burden, the retirement safety net, employment, energy, fiscal reform and the family.

“We have to do more than ‘Stand athwart history, yelling stop,’” writes Wehner, alluding to William F. Buckley’s famous unofficial mission statement for National Review. “Sometimes you have to do that and then try to bend history in a different direction.” What Wehner and his fellow conservatives try to do here is open a dialogue for practical reforms that conservatives can use to shape a framework for changing the direction of the country – a direction that currently pleases only hardcore statists.

It’s hard to know whether the Republican Party will pick up the mantle and take the words and ideas of “Room to Grow” to heart. They have become masters at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, mainly because they have clung to Reagan-esque language without the substance behind it, and they offer only knee-jerk opposition to Democrat legislation without providing solid alternatives. The book deserves to be read by all who know that our nation can do better, and who realize what we may become if the Left is left to its own devices.

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