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Jindal: “Deal With It”

Bobby Jindal makes the case that Republicans should stop “navel-gazing” about their problems:

We are the conservative party in America — deal with it. We have a lot of dissenting voices. So what? Deal with it. The American public waxes and wanes. Fine. It will wax again soon enough. Deal with it, and start fighting for our principles instead of against them, so we can be in position to create the next wave.

This is the sort of cri de coeur that one might expect from an activist or maybe a pundit, but it’s remarkably tone-deaf for an elected official. Jindal seems to be retreating here from his previous very mild recommendations for Republican reform, and seems to think that there’s nothing ailing the party that can’t be fixed by a redoubling of effort and a more combative attitude. Jindal is right that public opinion can change, and a party’s political fortunes can revive when the public tires of the party in power, but that doesn’t mean that one can simply wish away a party’s political weaknesses. No one would seriously accuse the GOP of having suffered from an “excess of navel-gazing” in the last few months. Most Republican pundits and politicians can’t bring themselves to face up to the bankruptcy of the party’s economic and foreign policy agendas, and they are even less interested in a remedy.

Relatively speaking, Republicans are the conservative party in America, but it’s a party that has little or nothing to offer to middle- and working-class Americans, its latest period of unified government was disastrous, and over at least the last twelve years it has alienated millions of people through a combination of incompetence and ideology. The public has “dealt” with the GOP already by handing it significant defeats in three of the last four national elections, and there are not many signs that Republicans understand how to avoid the next one. Reaching that understanding has only just barely begun, and Jindal now wants it stopped, which creates the impression that the effort to make sense of the 2012 loss and make necessary adjustments was almost entirely perfunctory and meaningless.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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