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Event Summary

Barack Obama’s re-election has led many conservatives to ponder the Republican Party’s future — where should conservatism and the GOP go from here? On Friday, an all-star panel gathered to discuss this topic in the first of a series of events examining majority conservatism. Ben Domenech of the Heartland Institute began by reminding the audience that “ideas don’t run for president, people do.” Consequently, said Domenech, a revival of conservative populism would be beneficial, since Americans feel that the corporate and governmental spheres are rigged against them.

Henry Olsen of AEI examined conservatism through the lenses of demographics and voter turnout, noting that the Romney campaign did not do enough to appeal to blue-collar whites this year, whose turnout was down from four years ago. Former US congressman Artur Davis then addressed specific issues on which the GOP has diverged from conservative principles of late, such as immigration. The GOP’s current position on immigration is not conservative, Davis maintained, because it does not seek to consolidate families. Reihan Salam of Economics 21 and National Review then made the case that the Republican Party needs a lower-middle-class reformism that puts people before ideas, as this would resonate best with potential voters.
–Jennifer Marsico

Event Description

Ronald Reagan once said conservatism was like a three-legged stool, combining economic, foreign policy, and social conservatives. But with the rise of the tea party and libertarian elements in the Republican Party, does this stool still exist?

To attract voters in changing times, some politicians and political analysts say that the Republican Party should put less emphasis on social issues. But others say that Republicans have lost recent national and statewide contests because they have not stuck to a set of conservative principles. Can the Republican Party fuse these differing views? A panel of opinion leaders will discuss the future of American conservatism.

If you are unable to attend, we welcome you to watch the event live on this page. Full video will be posted within 24 hours.


9:45 AM

10:00 AM
Artur Davis, Former US Congressman (AL)
Ben Domenech, The Heartland Institute
Henry Olsen, AEI
Reihan Salam, Economics 21 and National Review

Karlyn Bowman, AEI

11:30 AM

Event Contact Information

For more information, please contact Jennifer Marsico at [email protected], 202.862.5899.

Media Contact Information

For media inquiries, please contact [email protected], 202.862.5829.

Speaker Biographies

Karlyn Bowman is a senior fellow at AEI. She researches and analyzes American public opinion using available polling data on a variety of subjects including the economy, taxes, the state of workers in America, the environment and global warming, attitudes about homosexuality and gay marriage, the North American Free Trade Agreement and free trade, the war in Iraq, and women’s attitudes. In addition, Bowman has studied and spoken about the evolution of American politics resulting from key demographic and geographic changes. She has often lectured on the role of think tanks in the US and writes a weekly column for

Artur Davis represented Alabama’s 7th District in the US Congress for four terms from 2003 to 2011. Davis served as a resident fellow at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics during the spring semester of 2012. In May 2012, he announced that he was switching his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican. Davis has been a frequent commentator on national television outlets and has written several notable essays for the National Review on topics ranging from the decline of the centrist wing of the Democratic Party to the Obama campaign’s use of race as a political tactic. Davis maintains his own commentary blog at He was a prominent speaker at the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa and served as an active surrogate for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign.

Ben Domenech is a research fellow for the Heartland Institute and managing editor of Health Care News. He is also editor-in-chief of The City, an academic journal on politics and culture. Domenech previously served as speechwriter for US Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson, and as chief speechwriter for US Senator John Cornyn of Texas. An editor of multiple New York Times bestsellers, Domenech cofounded Redstate, a site described by National Journal as the most widely read conservative blog on Capitol Hill. He edits and writes a popular daily email newsletter called The Transom, which aggregates news and notes from around the web. Domenech also cohosts a daily center-right podcast, the Sam Adams award-winning Coffee & Markets.

Henry Olsen, a lawyer by training, is the director of AEI’s National Research Initiative. In this capacity, he identifies leading academics and public intellectuals who work in an aspect of domestic public policy and recruits them to visit or write for AEI. Olsen also studies and writes about the policy and political implications of long-term trends in social, economic, and political thought.

Reihan Salam
is a policy adviser at Economics 21, a contributing editor at National Review, a columnist for Reuters Opinion, and a CNN contributor. Salam is the co-author (with Ross Douthat) of “Grand New Party: How Conservatives Can Win the Working Class and Save the American Dream” (Doubleday, 2008). Previously, Salam was an associate editor at The Atlantic, a producer for NBC News, a junior editor and editorial researcher at The New York Times, a research associate at the Council on Foreign Relations, and a reporter and researcher at The New Republic.

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