Ramesh Ponnuru, writing in Time, does a pretty good job of assessing the current state of the Republican Party.
Republicans are feuding in the wake of the November election. But they are not descending into civil war. That would be too tidy. What is unfolding instead is an overlapping series of Republican civil wars, each with its own theme.
Ponnuru then goes on to explain the various positions being taken up by the different “factions” of the party and comes to the conclusion that we need to begin basically updating our message and our ideas to meet the times. While this idea has some merit, I think that it misses the larger point of why Republicans lost.
As Ponnuru points out, the electorate rejected both pro-choice and pro-life candidates. They rejected Republicans that were guilty of big spending and those that were more frugal and responsible. They rejected Republicans of all stripes on all issues. Basically, they rejected Republicans in general.
What would cause the electorate to so roundly reject the entire party, regardless of beliefs, convictions or voting records? Trust. It’s not the Republican message that was rejected or the Republican ideals. What was rejected was a party that said one thing and did something quite different. The belief that Republicans no longer really stand for anything is what led to widespread defeat at the polls. Obama and the Democrats at least represented a known enemy, whereas Republicans have become an unknown.
In order to start winning elections again, Republicans must start to hold true to their values. Party faithful should be ridding themselves of politicians that say one thing and do the opposite, replacing them with candidates of principle. This is the path to victory for the party. You can’t simply “rebrand” a bunch of tarnished politicians and hope that this time the voters believe them that they’re for real. You have to get rid of the problem.
The problem, folks, are the Republican politicians that have held power for so long.