Bruce Bartlett has a column lamenting the poor outlook for the Republican Party that concludes with this:
Eventually, Republicans will tire of being out of power just as Democrats did, and they will do what it takes to win. But I fear that Republicans will have to at least lose in 2010 and again in 2012 before they start to come to their senses. Perhaps by 2014, some leader with maturity, resources, vision and discipline will find a way of leading the GOP out of the wilderness. But I see no one even in a position to start that process today.
I think that’s probably right. Then again, I’m not sure that outlook is so bleak. After kinda sorta losing in 2000, some thought the lesson was that Democrats were way too liberal. Folks like Will Marshall and Mark Penn warned that they had to turn much more conservative in order to win elections. Their warnings went only semi-heeded and, consequently, Democrats lost ground in 2002 and lost more ground in 2004. But guess what? By 2008 they had strong congressional majorities and a popular new president ready to support universal health care, tough action to limit greenhouse gas pollution, a public more supportive than ever of equal rights for gays and lesbians, etc., etc.
Looking at the Republican side, the electoral map is just very bad for them in the 2010 Senate race no matter what they do. And the odds are that we’ll be in an economic recovery by 2012 that the voters will credit Obama for and he’ll get re-elected. But by 2014, the Senate electoral map will be bad for Democrats. Who wins in 2016? It has more to do with what’s happening in 2016 than with what the candidate says.
The problem with the conservative positions pushed by Bush and DeLay and Lott & McConnell and now McConnell & Lott and Boehner and Cantor and Pence isn’t that they’re “unelectable” positions it’s that they don’t work as a governing agenda. That’s bad for the country and also means that if they do get back into office, they’ll run things back into the ditch and probably get voted out again.