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A Manifesto For Young Republicans

Jul 16, 2008 (Fresh Air)

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The Republican Party has often been stereotyped as the party of wealthy, old white men, but conservative writers Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam think that can change. Their new book, Grand New Party, offers a vision of a new era of conservatism.

According to the book, the Republican Party must widen its base to include independent, working-class voters if it is to compete with the Democratic Party. These "Sam's Club voters," as the book refers to them, have been responsible for a number of Republican victories, but they are not a core constituency for the party and often support Democratic candidates.

In order to court this demographic, the Republican Party must balance policy that is oriented toward cultural values with economic inequality, say Douthat and Salam. The two argue that Democratic cultural liberalism alienates working-class voters, but the Republican Party's pro-business economic policy is unfriendly toward this swath of voters. By shifting their economic stance and continuing to promote family values, the GOP can actively reclaim the "silent majority."

Both Douthat and Salam are editors at The Atlantic. They have collaborated on pieces for The National Review and The Weekly Standard. The two have also worked together on The American Scene blog.

Douthat is also the author of Privilege: Harvard and the Education of the Ruling Class, a memoir and critique of his alma mater. He has contributed to The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Weekly Standard, and Slate

Salam has held positions at The New Republic, The New York Times, and NBC News. He is also a fellow at the New America Foundation.

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