We should be the party of free thinking and policy experimentation

We should be the party of free thinking and free markets. We should be the party of policy experimentation and fresh approaches. We should be the party of competing ideas. We should allow our ideas to be tested and force our ideas to prove their value in practice.

We already have a model for this form of governance, and it can be found in the diversity of our Republican governors. From veterans like Mitch Daniels of Indiana and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, to newcomers like Chris Christie of New Jersey we have seen a multiplicity of policy ideas and approaches. Some mirror each other. Some contradict each other. On taxes and spending, these governors often (but not always) agree. On immigration and social policy, they frequently disagree. we have seen a multiplicity of policy ideas and approaches. Some mirror each other. Some contradict each other. On taxes and spending, these governors often (but not always) agree. On immigration and social policy, they frequently disagree…

But to make sure that we do not lose the advantage of that clear difference, we must not layer onto our fundamental beliefs thick black lines of ideology — black lines that we do not allow ourselves to cross. Those black lines can be comforting, I understand. They provide certainty and stability and ideological purity. But they also restrict the way we think about problems, and make more difficult the kind of reform-minded free thinking that has defined the conservative movement for the last 50 years.

Thick black lines of ideology are good at keeping people in, but they are also good at keeping people out. And our party can’t win if we keep people out.