The Future of Conservative Ideas

Drake Bennett profiles four up-and-coming right-of-center thinkers: Luigi Zingales, Bradford Wilcox, Reihan Salam, and Megan McArdle. I’ve never heard of Wilcox, but his ideas (family is good!) don’t sound very interesting. Of the other three, I would say that only Reihan is really thinking about an engaged, practical political program.

Not that there’s nothing wrong with being impractical, of course, but I think the most noticeable “ideas gap” on the right is precisely a lack of practical solutions. Given how few Republican Party elected officials there are right now, taking potshots at Obama and poking holes in his agenda is a perfectly reasonable thing to do. But I think it’s still the case that for years now there conservative movement has been very bad at identifying concrete problems in people’s lives and laying out things they’d like to change that would ameliorate those problems. The “drill baby drill” episode from last summer at least has the right formal properties, though I’d hardly call it an “idea.”