Column: The Republican Party must rethink campaigns without ideas | Columnists

The main drawback of this strategy for Republican electoral victories is what happens after them, or rather what does not happen. The strategy makes it harder for Republicans to govern when they have the chance.

Consider the 2017-18 record, the only two years in the last 15 years that Republicans had unified control of government. They have spent months trying and ignominiously failing to shift health policy in their direction. Among the reasons for their defeat: They hadn’t spent the previous years thinking about what to do about health care or responding to criticism of their proposals. They decided to wait for their presidential candidate to come up with a platform, but he tweeted instead.

Democrats proceed very differently. They always have ideas about what the government should do, as you would expect given their political philosophy, and they often make many proposals during campaigns. Democrats resolved many of their differences over health care in the 2006 and 2008 campaigns before trying to legislate in 2009, for example, and the decision to make the issue a priority was effectively made at the party scale. This difference in approach likely helps explain why, over the past generation, Democrats have done more to shape federal policy than Republicans.

Or, to put it another way, why the Democratic regime has been more efficient.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He is the editor of National Review and a Fellow of the American Enterprise Institute.

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