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Despite it’s salt of the earth, rugged individualist exterior, the GOP has leaned on its pointy-headed intellectuals and right wing think tanks to formulate policy. But those days maybe over. Nils Andreson explains:

A party needs a well-educated echelon – call it an elite – to formulate policy to deal with complex challenges. Without the philosophical and academic achievements of the likes of Friedrich von Hayek, Milton Friedman and James Q. Wilson, the Reagan revolution would not have been possible.

Even the Bush administration, which critics tried to portray as anti-academic, benefited enormously from the Ivy League. George W. Bush went to Yale (as did his father) and went on to do an MBA at Harvard – albeit with moderate grades. Donald Rumsfeld went to Princeton. Paul Wolfowitz was at Cornell – though a Democrat at the time. Treasury secretary Hank Paulson started out at Dartmouth, before doing his MBA at Harvard. Chairman in President Bush’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board – and National Security Advisor in the administration of George H.W. Bush – Brent Scowcroft, did his PhD at Columbia. Condoleezza Rice had been a Provost at Stanford, “the Ivy of the West”. Robert Gates, who Obama has retained, went to the College of William and Mary, one of “the Public Ivies”. And David Frum, went to Yale before he got his J.D. at Harvard.

I believe future Republican administrations would also try to draw on such talent to formulate policy. However, the well is drying up. So few of the experts in any given field will in the future be Republican. That is an enormous problem. The intellectual resources directed at finding conservative answers to today’s problems are weakened year by year. If not quite critical yet, thanks to the efforts of an older generation of Republicans, the ramifications of this trend might be dramatic.

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One Comment

  1. I wouldn’t exactly call Hayek a Republican. He is a great intellect though.

    The typical Republican reads Shawn Hannity, Mark Levine, Rush Limbaugh and the Bible (maybe John Grisham and Tim LaHaye if they are the intellectual peak). Most likely they prefer the audio version though.

    Then again I would doubt if but a few of these intellectual dems have read Ludwig Von Mises, Henry Hazlit, Hans Herman Hoppe or Murray Rothbard. They wouldn’t teach such things a
    Harvard. Societys are based on philosophies though. The nasty one fell relatively easy twenty years ago. The remaining lefty righty mixed up one is crumbling daily. It is predictable that it would fail as well (it is just a matter of timing). We will just have to see what emerges.


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