Home/Rod Dreher/Jindal Lays Down 2016 Markers

Jindal Lays Down 2016 Markers

I’m liking this:

“We’ve got to make sure that we are not the party of big business, big banks, big Wall Street bailouts, big corporate loopholes, big anything,” Jindal told POLITICO in a 45-minute telephone interview. “We cannot be, we must not be, the party that simply protects the rich so they get to keep their toys.”

He was just as blunt on how the GOP should speak to voters, criticizing his party for offending and speaking down to much of the electorate.

“It is no secret we had a number of Republicans damage our brand this year with offensive, bizarre comments — enough of that,” Jindal said. “It’s not going to be the last time anyone says something stupid within our party, but it can’t be tolerated within our party. We’ve also had enough of this dumbed-down conservatism. We need to stop being simplistic, we need to trust the intelligence of the American people and we need to stop insulting the intelligence of the voters.”


Even more notably, Jindal suggested he’d look favorably on something akin to the “Volcker rule.”

“You’ve seen some conservatives come around to the idea that if banks are going to be using FDIC-insured deposits, they shouldn’t be allowed to co-mingle those funds with some of their riskier investment banking activity,” Jindal said. “There needs to be stronger walls between insured deposits, the taxpayer protected side of business and riskier side of business that generate these risks and profits.”

Asked if Wall Street generally has too much influence on Republicans, he said: “I think special interests in general have certainly too much influence in Washington, D.C.”

In comments that will raise eyebrows among some of the RGA’s donors, Jindal decried “agnostic” lobbyists who work both parties.

“They’re access donors because they know whoever is in power — that’s who they want to be friends with to get their special perks in the Tax Code,” he said.

More, please.

I hope Jindal, who is a social conservative, will find a way to connect his social conservatism to this emerging populism in his rhetoric.

I haven’t been a close Jindal-watcher, but this new, post-election rhetoric sounds very different from what I’m used to hearing from him or any other major Republican politician not named Mike Huckabee (the 2008 model; Rick Santorum flirted with this kind of thing). I suppose we’re bound to get all kinds of pushback comparing Jindal’s rhetoric now with his actual record in Louisiana. And not only with Jindal, but with any GOP politician and presidential hopeful who shows signs of having learned some lessons from the 2012 election, and building trends among the American electorate.

You know what? That’s fair. It’s perfectly fair to compare a politician’s rhetoric with his record, and to point out inconsistencies. We can expect that the left will call out Republican pols as hypocrites. That’s normal; it’s to be expected. But I hope that the usual suspects on the right won’t start shooting any Republican hopeful who deviates from the Reaganite script as heretics or RINOs. The 2008 election ought to have closed the door on Reaganism as a viable political ideology as firmly as the 1980 election closed the door on the New Deal’s assumptions. It took the Democrats two losing presidential elections to come up with a candidate — Bill Clinton — who absorbed the lessons of Reaganism, and found a way to articulate a winning Democratic strategy from it.

It’s not that Reagan was wrong, but that his politics were right for his time and place, in a way that they aren’t anymore, at least not in their classic form. The Soviet Union doesn’t exist any longer. High taxation and overregulation are not the main economic problems facing America. Whatever the problems with social breakdown, the realistic opportunities for conservative change aren’t today what they were in the 1980s or even the 1990s.  We need to figure out how to think about and talk about core conservative principles in ways that not only make sense right now, but that might appeal to a majority of Americans. If Bobby Jindal, or any other up-and-coming GOP leader starts changing the tune they’ve been singing for the past four, eight, twelve years, we on the right shouldn’t be so quick to denounce them as hypocrites or faithless. We should give them credit for being willing to learn from their, and the party’s mistakes, and to try to lead the GOP and the conservative movement back to victory.

Seeing this interview, I hope Jindal does run in 2016.


about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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