Speaker Ryan, 

Even in Trump’s absence, the latest debate showed your Republican colleagues have no intention of toning down the rancor. As it stands, division, isolationism and narrow-mindedness abound. But in light of the (unfortunate) success of moderate Conservative parties in our home countries, we know it does not have to be this way.  

This is a hard letter for us to write. As former advisers to center-left political parties in the United Kingdom and Australia, we have no interest in a Republican president. Indeed, in a majority-minority America, a tolerant and more representative GOP presents a stronger political opponent. We cannot silently stand by, though, as the Republican primary debate poses serious threats to your beloved country and the world. In writing this letter, we seek to rise above our natural political instincts and side with compassion instead.   


We don’t enjoy reflecting on Conservative parties that have re-established their dominance in both Australia and the UK. Their unwelcome success shows how your party could remain true to its conservative values of small government and personal liberty in a way that does not divide or repel. Relative to today’s GOP, Prime Ministers David Cameron in the United Kingdom and Malcolm Turnbull in Australia have planted their flags on the election-winning political center ground. Their success in the polls speaks for itself. You would do well to consider what the GOP can learn from three elements of their political modernization.   

First, tolerance. David Cameron embraced two causes that went against the grain of his party: same-sex marriage and a commitment to overseas aid spending. In Australia Malcolm Turnbull also supported same-sex marriage although he has pushed the issue to a post-election plebiscite to appease the radical right of his party. Both Cameron and Turnbull have stressed that the majority of Muslims are appalled by the heinous actions of ISIS. Further, in contrast to the misogyny often present in the Republican primary, Turnbull’s first major policy announcement after becoming Prime Minister was a package of measures designed to support women and children at risk of domestic violence. 

Second, climate change. In Australia and the United Kingdom, with the exception of a radical few, Parliamentarians believe climate change is real. Turnbull himself has supported an emissions trading scheme and previously lost the leadership of his party taking a stand on this issue. Cameron once announced his intention to run the “greenest government ever.” In practice, both men have generally disappointed on the environmental front. But both did more to reach an accommodation with the electorate than their core supporters would have preferred. It is worth remembering that the majority of Americans, including Republicans, support action on climate change.  

Third, both prime ministers have offered some kind of a vision for the struggling middle class. Advances in technology and globalization are creating unprecedented economic pressures. In response, Turnbull has released an innovation package that largely mirrors Labor’s previously announced policy, promised to put fairness at the center of economic adjustments and has prioritized informed economic debate over three word slogans. In the UK, the Conservatives shrewdly emulated many of their opponent’s best lines on innovation and balanced regional growth. They are now seeking to be the party of full employment, increases in the minimum wage. The results remain to be seen but the direction has at least been articulated. 

Conservatives back home have a long way to go on their social, environmental and economic bona fides – you would expect us to say as much. There has been more talk than action and many ideas reflect previously announced Labor policies. However, with these misgivings aside, both Cameron and Turnbull show that there is no reason why the GOP cannot stick to sincerely held conservative values whilst also avoiding the fearmongering rhetoric observed to date. 

We recognize that changes to the GOP platform and even adjusting existing rhetoric presents a challenge. With that said, the best move in any game is the one your opponent least wants you to make. Doubtless the Democrats running today would prefer the Republicans remain in their climate-change denying, planned-parenthood hating, tin-eared nationalistic comfort zone. But the Democrats of tomorrow should be made to face a worthy opponent, one that offers a 21st century conservative vision. If this is achieved, in the long run, America will be better off. 

Samuda and Tyler are former policy advisers to the Labor Party in the United Kingdom and Australia respectively. Both are currently studying public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School.