You wouldn't know it to listen to Republican politicians, but there's a new eminently reasonable brand of conservatism brewing, based on the principle of "skeptical reform," writes David Brooks at the New York Times. Current Republicans have defined themselves as anti-government, leaving them "no governing agenda for people facing concrete needs." This new breed of thinkers instead focuses on remedying specific social ills—even if that means using government as a tool. "Government is not the only solution, but it is not the only problem."
These thinkers acknowledge "that the world is too complicated to be centrally planned," and hence strive to harness markets—instead of dictating them like ObamaCare. But unlike today's often too-fervent Republicans, they're skeptical of their own solutions as well, so they aim for gradual, mindful reform. Brooks thinks this school will catch on, because "the Republican style of recent years has produced a vacuum where concrete proposals should be." When Republicans need policies of their own, they'll "find there is no other game in town." For examples of these kinds of policies, see the full column.