The nation knows the conservative think tank Manhattan Institute primarily for creating and successfully making mainstream the theory of broken windows. As Jason Harowitz explains today in THE NEW YORK OBSERVER, the genius of the group was not just breakthrough ideas but realizing that it took a leader to disseminate them. That leader, of course, was Rudy Giuliani.
For us lead paint watchers, for more than three years, the Manhattan Institute had morphed into that "Third Place" where we could ideologically hang out and chew the fat about everything from the shelf life of public nuisance to what jackpot justice was costing U.S. capitalism. Our cheerleader Walter Olson gave us plenty of his pricey digital real estate on Overlawyered.com and Pointoflaw.com. If the lead paint public nuisance lawsuits go to trial in Ohio and California we will again turn our eyes to Olson for free space.
Currently, like every other institution, both conservative and more liberal, the Manhattan Institute is pushed into reinvention. We are a broken nation. The conservatives took a major ideological and influence hit. The more liberal have to adjust to the success and expectations thrown on them by a stunned America. The meter has already started running, months before those usual 100 days of a new administration.
How can conservative organizations regain a voice? Answer: The same way the comeback liberals are. And that's by growing up. In "To Kill a Mockingbird," Atticus Finch explains to Scout that growing up means the ability to compromise. There's simply no place for purity or rigidity of ideas, opinions or behavior. Ideological virginity is a luxury neither point of view can afford.