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Republicans As Disruptors: They’re Not Uber Successful (Forbes.com) October 20, 2015

Posted by daviddavenport in Newspaper Columns/Essays, Politics.

The Republican Party is reinventing itself and so far the results are not pretty.  Clearly no longer your father’s Republican Party, it is becoming a party of disruptors.  The new conservative young turks in Congress, calling themselves the Freedom Caucus, have finally worn out Speaker John Boehner and have run off his apparent successor Congressman Kevin McCarthy.  So far no one of any stature wants the job, and who can blame them, with 36 party disruptors right in your own backyard.

The same vibe continues to dominate the Republican presidential race, with disruptor-in-chief Donald Trump leading the field.  Amazingly, the three candidates with zero experience in elected office—Trump, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina—share a cumulative 54% in support against a collective 39% for all the other candidates who have held office.  Even Jeb Bush, the ultimate establishment candidate, has been reduced to saying in Iowa that he wants to go to Washington to “disrupt the old order.”  Apparently there’s no point in running this year unless you have a disruptor union card.

Unfortunately Republicans only get half the disruptor DNA.  Silicon Valley companies have revolutionized one field after another with disruptive technology and business models.  But the way they do it is by developing and investing in something new and bold which, as the effect and not the cause, disrupts existing business models.  Take Uber as the classic example:  Uber invented an entirely new way of transporting people around busy cities, providing greater convenience and comfort at affordable prices.  As a consequence, the taxi industry has been entirely disrupted, and Uber has faced protests, demonstrations, lawsuits, and legislation.  But Uber did not start the revolution by attacking the taxi industry, rather it built something new and improved that had a disruptive impact.

Here’s where conservatives and Republicans are missing the point:  they seem focused first on disrupting government and politics as usual, but they offer nothing new or improved in its place.  What has the Freedom Caucus accomplished in its first year?  Essentially running off the House Republican leaders and threatening a government shutdown over funding Planned Parenthood.  It’s similar to the record of its predecessor, the Tea Party Republicans, who shut down the government in 2013.  They have no platform—instead their agenda is disrupting and taking over the levers of power.

But to disrupt an existing way of doing business, you need to offer a better way, and this is has always been a challenge for conservatives.  William F. Buckley, one of the founders of modern American conservatism, acknowledged that conservatives “stand athwart history yelling ‘stop.’”  By contrast, a Democrat like Bernie Sanders throws out more new ideas in one debate than 15 Republican candidates combined.  Of course, I would have loved to have seen a meter at the bottom of the television screen running the tab on Sanders’ proposals—by some estimates he would add $18 trillion to the federal budget—almost precisely the amount of the accumulated federal debt of $18.2 trillion.

To become known as a party of disruptors is basically to admit you prefer being a minority obstructionist party and you are not ready to lead Congress or the country.  It will be a failed business model, with Republicans accomplishing nothing in Congress and losing the presidency.  What will it take to turn this around?  Wiser heads coming to the fore with some real policy ideas.  Paul Ryan, who is as close to a policy wonk as Republicans have, needs to step up and become the new Speaker of the House.  As the election draws nearer, voters need to appreciate that outsider candidates may sound good, but they don’t have any idea or experience in how to run a government for 300 million people.  Already Marco Rubio has edged into the top three candidates in recent polls, with outsiders Trump peaking and Fiorina fading.  In six months, the field needs to look entirely different or Republicans will have blown one more great opportunity to lead.

Click here for the original post at Forbes.com:


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