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Other View: Peter Thiel’s warning to GOP is a wake-up call

Republicans, Thiel says, are focusing too much this cycle on opposing progressive policies, without offering tangible alternatives.

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Peter Thiel in a 2018 file photo.
Michael Cohen/Getty Images for The New York Times/TNS
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Peter Thiel, a GOP megadonor and technology billionaire, is a controversial figure within conservative circles. The early investor in Facebook and PayPal co-founder also was an instrumental donor to Trump-backed Senate candidates in Arizona and Ohio.

But his recent comments to the National Conservatism Conference caught our eye because of what he is signaling about the GOP and conservatism. Republicans, Thiel says, are focusing too much this cycle on opposing progressive policies, without offering tangible alternatives. “The temptation on our side is always going to be that all we have to do is say we’re not California,” said Thiel. “It’s so easy, so ridiculous to denounce, but … should we maybe have more of a positive agenda?”

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Thiel seems to be saying that wins in GOP primaries are a potential liability in general elections when moderates and independents become swing voters, a growing concern within the Republican Party.

In an essay in The Atlantic earlier this year, Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, wrote that both political parties are in an unhealthy denial about what ails the nation. “When entire countries fail to confront serious challenges, it doesn’t end well,” he warned, noting that inaction and gridlock on immigration and border security, drought and climate change and ongoing threats to our democratic processes are potentially cataclysmic.

Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., recently raised a similar concern. History shows that the party in the White House often loses House and Senate seats in the midterms. However, “I think there’s probably a greater likelihood the House flips than the Senate,” McConnell said, adding that “candidate quality has a lot to do with the outcome.”

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“We’re doing less well than 2010, the tea party stuff … we’re leaning way too far into pure nihilistic negation,” Thiel warned.

If conservative thought is to regain a responsible position of influence within the GOP, true conservatives must divorce themselves and their party from those who traffic in divisive rhetoric and chaos at the expense of conservative ideas, solutions and leadership.

Simplistic, ill-defined mantras rooted in catchphrases and chaos are antithetical to conservatism, which should respect the traditions that unite us, seek conservative solutions to complex policy issues and remain forward-looking enough to adapt for the future.

Conservatism should represent a moderate approach to consensus governing. As practiced by many candidates this cycle, it has become a troubling embrace of grievances over ideas and leadership.

©2022 The Dallas Morning News
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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