Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam's book Grand New Party was reviewed in the New York Times.
One of the Republican Party’s most astute pols, Representative Tom Davis of Virginia, recently reflected on his party’s status among voters. In a 20-page memo for his colleagues, Davis wrote, “If we were a dog food, they would take us off the shelf.” Bad as things are, they may get worse.
The signs of Republican trouble are everywhere. Eighty-one percent of Americans believe the country is on the wrong track, the worst number since The New York Times and CBS started asking the question in 1991. Consumer sentiment in May, as measured by the University of Michigan, was at its lowest level in 28 years. Republicans have lost three consecutive special elections for House seats in rock-ribbed Republican districts, a particularly ominous harbinger of electoral catastrophe.
Yet Democratic successes right now are driven more by Republican failures than by an enthusiastic public embrace of what Democrats stand for. The Democratic-controlled Congress, after all, has a lower approval rating than even President Bush.
In other words, there is at least a dim light at the end of a dark tunnel for the Republican Party. The conservatives Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam, both with The Atlantic Monthly, neither hard-core party activists nor longtime political operatives, want to provide a road map to get the party to brighter and more long-lasting sunshine.
The core thesis of their book Grand New Party is that the working class in America the non-college-educated half of the electorate continues to ping-pong between the parties and is there for the taking by any group that can seriously and directly address its concerns. The authors note: “Since 1968, these voters have provided the ‘silent majority’ that elected Nixon, the ‘Reagan Democrats’ who gave the Gipper his landslides and the ‘angry white men’ who put the Gingrich G.O.P. over the top in 1994. ... Yet after each Republican triumph, this working-class constituency ... has become disillusioned with conservative governance and returned to the Democratic column.”