GOP soul-searching and the ‘Dougherty Doctrine’

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Timothy P. Carney

These days, everyone has their assessment of why Republicans lost and what they need to do in order to win. And you’ll notice a pattern to them.

Pro-lifers say Republicans need a real pro-life nominee. Social liberals say Republicans need to drop all social issues. Hawks say Romney needed to attack Obama on his foreign-policy weakness. Some non-interventionist conservatives say Romney could have won had he staked out a more humble foreign policy.

Conservative writer Michael Brendan Dougherty saw this happening in 2006, and summed it up:

At the end of the day, the arguments all seem to boil down to something similar: If it were more like me, the Republican Party would be better off. It’s failing because it’s like you.

The Dougherty Doctrine is that all prescriptions for electoral success coincide neatly with the prescribers favored policies. I exemplified the Dougherty Doctrine with my column today, arguing for a free-market populism and a GOP assault on corporate welfare.

The Dougherty Doctrine gives a reason to look skeptically at any “what-my-party-needs-to-do-now” essays. But let me add a corollary: Just because one’s electoral advice coincides with one’s policy preferences that doesn’t mean the electoral advice is wrong.

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