What these races suggest is that Republicans’ principal problem in recent elections has not been that they are too far right, or — as a lot of conservatives like to think — not far right enough. After all, voters turned on both moderate and conservative Republicans in the late Bush years. The problem has instead been that voters have not thought Republicans of any stripe had answers to their most pressing concerns. Addressing those concerns, rather than repositioning itself along the ideological spectrum, is the party’s main challenge.
Of course, nobody on the mainstream right is addressing the leviathan in the room: defense. I’m not sure we can regain a level fiscal footing until the question of defense spending is addressed, and of course even in the most sensible corner of the conservative movement, that’s hardly even the ghost of a whisper. No matter how fiscally sane the GOP gets, and no matter how responsible and practical their policy prescriptions become in the future, without addressing defense we’re still at a fiscal standstill.
I’ll have more to say about all of this but I’m feeling a bit of writer’s block coming on at the moment. Suffice to say, the posts linked above all point to the need for a more policy-centric, less ideological agenda on the right. It’s actually pretty much what I’ve been saying for some time now. If only Rush Limbaugh would stop being such a jerk, maybe we’d see this start to materialize.