Forget libertarian populism. Embrace compassionate conservatism.

What about the notion that the GOP must shed its do-gooder paternalistic image? Something else that concerns me: During a recent episode of Bloggingheads, Ben Domenech (also a proponent of libertarian populism) discussed how libertarian populism was needed because American culture has become more individualistic (and conservatism must adapt to this new reality). In the old days, getting married and having kids made middle class folks more conservative. But as our society has changed, people are delaying or simply skipping such familial arrangements, and Domenech believes the GOP must change to “meet the needs of these new, more individualist people with different priorities.”

This, of course, is a confirmation of my notion that conservatives long ago lost the culture war. But assuming we agree that a political reordering is taking place — that the Reagan coalition once held together by the threat of Communism is no longer tenable — there is still a debate over whether or not this is the best way to rebuild a conservative coalition capable of winning elections.

I prefer a conservative movement that is on the record in favor of encouraging a virtuous society. It just so happens that the anti-abortion issue currently polls well, so it is not likely to be on the chopping block of the things populist libertarians would wish to take off the table. But what if it didn’t poll well? Well, I would say we should be on the side of the angels, no matter the cost. That this is worth the fighting for. This may make me a paternalist “do-gooder.” If so, so be it. I suspect I’m not alone here. In fact, I bet a lot of populist voters would agree.