Frum Predicts Period of Republican Adaptation
Published: Friday, February 22, 2013
Updated: Monday, February 25, 2013 15:02
David Frum, a former speechwriter for President George W. Bush and former Wall Street Journal editorial board member, said that the Republican Party is well positioned to adapt to the 21st century in a Tuesday address.
Frum is founder of the FrumForum — a site dedicated to the modernization of the Republican Party — and is a featured writer at The Daily Beast and Newsweek.
Frum said that in order to gain broader support throughout the country, the Republican Party must change its message.
“The message in the last election was … for entrepreneurs, but most people aren’t entrepreneurs and don’t like economic risk,” Frum said. “You have to have a message for them and the message has to be one of respect — you cannot divide your population between makers and takers.”
According to Frum, for these reasons, the Republican candidate in 2024 will stand for different positions than Republican candidates today.
“In 2024 will a Republican candidate be for or against same-sex marriage? For,” Frum said. “In 2024 will the Republican candidate have something to say about climate change? Yes. In 2024 will the Republican candidate say that if a 10-year-old boy finds a gun and shoots his 8-year-old sister, that there is nothing that anybody in government needs to say or do about that tragedy? I don’t believe that will happen.”
Albert Eisenberg (COL ’13) questioned Frum about the benefit of shifting positions and cited former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who was admired for standing firmly to her principles.
In response, Frum said that Thatcher’s principles were relevant to the situation of her time, whereas Republicans today face a different situation.
“The Republican Party has a tremendous problem telling the difference between principles and policies,” Frum said. “Women in government is a principle. The Ryan Plan is not a principle. The Republican Party has had tremendous difficulty [in recent years] applying its principles to reality.”
Frum said that the he was confident that his party would overcome the challenges it faces.
“In every developed country in the world there is a party of the left and a party of the right,” Frum said. “A party that is of markets and enterprise and a party about social services and public sector. Someone needs to be there to stand up for the people who pay the bills that create enterprises and drive innovation and growth. We need a party that stands up for a lighter hand of regulation for balancing budgets over the longer term and for making sure the tax burden isn’t crushing.”
Frum said he was optimistic about the party’s ability to build support as it adapts.
“The sheer competitive dynamic of the two-party system will force the Republican Party to retool,” Frum said. “You can see the beginnings of conversation — [change] is a matter of time.”
The event was sponsored by the Georgetown University College Republicans.
"Frum was an entertaining, stimulating and engaging speaker," College Republicans Chair Alex Cave (COL '15) said. "Students of all political persuasions, not just Republicans, turned out for the event. ... I think that people who attended the event, even those who may not agree with Frum's perspective, really enjoyed listening to and participating in what was a very dynamic discussion."