Yesterday, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor joined the fray with a policy speech that presented existing GOP policies on education, immigration, and entitlements, but placed them under a new “make life easier” banner, as if it somehow made a difference.
The broader problem with these attempts to rebrand the Republican Party is that it’s hard to craft a governing agenda when your ideology is based in hostility to government. Over the last four years, the GOP has embraced an ideology which sees government as wasteful, inefficient, and incapable of doing anything for ordinary Americans. If the Republican Party has left itself any space for embracing constructive governing solutions, it’s hard to find.
With that said, we shouldn’t be too dismissive. If the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem, then Republican Party is beginning a long process of rehabilitation. Yes, the GOP hasn’t pushed real reform of its policies and ideas, but it does recognize the degree to which Americans want solutions from government. Cantor’s call for pragmatism is a crack in the wall — a recognition that the GOP can’t survive as an anti-government insurgency. Put another way, this is the Republican Party’s first step toward developing an agenda for functional government. It remains to be seen if it will take a second.