Courtesy Reuters

The Right Stuff

The Reformers Trying to Remake the Republican Party

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Room to Grow: Conservative Reforms for a Limited Government and a Thriving Middle Class. BY THE YG NETWORK. YG Network, 2014, 121 pp. Free online.

This past January, Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives held their annual winter retreat at a waterfront resort in Cambridge, Maryland. Their aim was to debate the party’s 2014 agenda among themselves before committing publicly to any big-ticket proposals. The meeting featured panels on health care, immigration, jobs, taxes, and more -- capped with an appearance by the former Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz, whose rousing speech party leaders hoped would encourage a spirit of team play.

Yet the most striking part of the gathering was a presentation given by Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, who would lose his seat six months later in a stunning GOP primary upset. Cantor’s talk was about connecting with the middle class, and his message should have been obvious: most Americans don’t own their own businesses; instead, they depend on someone else for a paycheck.

This seemed to come as news, however, to the lawmakers in the audience who had swooned over Mitt Romney’s celebration of entrepreneurs during the 2012 presidential election. Many of them still subscribed to the assertion of his running mate, Paul Ryan, that the world was divided into entrepreneurial “makers” and government-dependent “takers.” Cantor told the group, however, that the majority of Americans do not even aspire to start their own businesses; instead, they dream of “a good job with an

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