The GOP's Big Chance: Cultivate 'Whole Foods Republicans'

Appreciation for a progressive lifestyle can still fit with conservatism.

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By Mary Kate Cary, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

Okay, I'll admit it. I'm not "highly educated"—just a college grad here—but otherwise I seem to fit the bill as a "Whole Foods Republican" as defined by Michael Petrilli of the Hoover Institute in Monday's Wall Street Journal:

What's needed is a full-fledged effort to cultivate "Whole Foods Republicans"—independent-minded voters who embrace a progressive lifestyle but not progressive politics. These highly-educated individuals appreciate diversity and would never tell racist or homophobic jokes; they like living in walkable urban environments; they believe in environmental stewardship, community service and a spirit of inclusion. And yes, many shop at Whole Foods, which has become a symbol of progressive affluence but is also a good example of the free enterprise system at work. (Not to mention that its founder is a well-known libertarian who took to these pages to excoriate ObamaCare as inimical to market principles.)

What makes these voters potential Republicans is that, lifestyle choices aside, they view big government with great suspicion. There's no law that someone who enjoys organic food, rides his bike to work, or wants a diverse school for his kids must also believe that the federal government should take over the healthcare system or waste money on thousands of social programs with no evidence of effectiveness. Nor do highly educated people have to agree that a strong national defense is harmful to the cause of peace and international cooperation.

I think massive government spending is dangerous not only to our children's futures but to our national security. I also think it threatens the liberty of every American. And moms like me are no Cindy Sheehans—we believe in peace through strength and support our troops, because they protect our families here and our allies abroad.

Whatever their lifestyle choices, there are many, many Americans who are limited government conservatives. Increasingly, Americans are more inclusive, educated, and concerned about the environment than they used to be, and as Petrilli concludes, "The Republican Party can catch this wave, or watch its historic opportunity for 'resurgence' wash away with the tides."