While Hayward's tax proposals are the highlight of his article for Brooks, he goes on to argue for stronger Republican commitment to infrastructure and environmental protection. Hayward exposes what he calls a "non sequitur" of the Right: "the environment has mostly become a cause of the Left, therefore environmental problems are either phony or are not worth considering" While still holding out for "free-market" solutions to environmental problems, he insists primarily that conservatives can't yield a major area of public concern completely to the other side.
Hayward displays a modesty of ambition that seems genuinely conservative, repudiating the ideologue's zeal for total victory and admitting that collaboration and compromise between parties is necessary for government to function effectively. While affirming that "the divisions between Left and Right are fundamental and unbridgeable," and that "Left and Right have conflicting modes of moral reasoning that cannot be easily synthesized or bridged," he regards the following as the more important point.
There are three dominant political facts of our age that conservative thinkers (and also liberals) need to acknowledge. The first is the plain fact that neither ideological camp will ever defeat the other so decisively as to be able to govern without the consent of the other side. This is not merely my political judgment; it is sewn into the nature of America's basic institutions and political culture.
The unbridgeable divisions are the second fact, while the permanence of the "entitlement state" is the third. Returning to the first point at the end of his essay, Hayward makes his strongest argument for compromise:
Achieving policy compromise and the reconstruction of a "vital center" requires an end to the view of practical politics as a zero-sum game, in which compromise is regarded as a defeat by both sides....Consent does not require surrender. Liberals and conservatives do not agree about the principle of equality in American life and probably never will. Conservatives emphasize equal opportunity while accepting or even celebrating unequal outcomes. Conservatives see nothing inherently unjust about large disparities in the distribution of income or wealth, and also offer practical reasons why unequal rewards make for a more dynamic, creative, and ultimately wealthier society. Liberals strongly prefer more equal results, with many viewing disparities in income or wealth as random (Richard Gephardt once referred to the structure of America's wealth and income distribution as a "lottery"), and, as a result, favor egalitarian policies and entitlement programs. Even so, most liberals are not pure redistributionists, and generally support policies that broaden opportunity for individual advancement, while few conservatives are entirely indifferent to the importance of income mobility and social opportunity....While liberals and conservatives may disagree on the very notion of equality, they can agree on certain points -- for example, that stagnating incomes are problematic -- and can achieve policy agreement in certain key areas.
Hayward closes by addressing the challenge of ideology. "It may be that internal ideological reformation must precede bipartisan political compromise," he writes, hoping that his own call for a conservative reformation will be echoed by a liberal reformation. "[N]either movement has properly adapted to the changing fabric of modern society," he concludes, which is why pragmatic compromise leaves ideologues dissatisfied. Finally, "[B]efore the two camps can agree to an agenda truly in the national interest, liberals and conservatives must first reform themselves." Of course, it may not be necessary to wait. If the national interest is self-evident enough to non-ideologues, voters ought to be able to purge government of unreformed conservatives and liberals. It should not be up to the ideologues themselves to reform, however desirable it'd be for them to do so, if elections allow us to replace them with pragmatists and moderates. If they do not, Hayward may be compelled to reconsider whether partisanship itself, rather than raw ideology, is what Americans need to reform.