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American conservatives are challenged to move outside the 'movement cocoon'

As part of a New York Times feature on the health of US conservatism, a concern was expressed that American conservatives are listening too much to each other:

"Another new-generation conservative, Ross Douthat, argues that “Reagan was right for his time, but now it’s a different time.” Mr. Douthat, 28, and Reihan Salam are the authors of a new book, “The Grand New Party: How Republicans Can Win the Working Class and Save the American Dream.” Mr. Douthat says that social conservatives have gotten stuck and need to move beyond their focus on gay marriage and abortion — a focus, he said, that does nothing to help a single African-American mother trying to raise a family. Instead, conservatives need to “figure out a way to talk about the problem of family breakdown and the extent to which that’s linked to social mobility, economic troubles.

In his eyes, while the network of research groups and journals helped build conservatism, it has also contributed to its stagnation. “Conservatives have always criticized the liberal establishment” — universities, magazines, organizations — for a “tendency toward cocooning,” Mr. Douthat said. Now, it is conservatives who are cocooning, talking only to each other and not looking around for new ideas.

There was this tremendous generation of intellectuals who came of age in the ’70s and ’80s, but I think there’s been some difficulty in establishing a new generation,” Mr. Douthat said. “On the right, a lot of them did their best work 20 years ago.”


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