There are metrics, after all, by which the post-2009 GOP appears to be a supremely successful political party. Recently, Rory Cooper, of the communications firm Purple Strategies, tallied a net gain to the Republicans of 69 seats in the House of Representatives, 13 seats in the Senate, 900-plus seats in state legislatures, and 12 governorships since Obama took office. With that kind of grip on state government, in particular, Republicans are well positioned to write election and voting rules that sustain their hold on the national legislature. The president may be able to grant formerly illegal immigrants the right to work, but he cannot grant them the right to vote. In this light, instead of revising Republican policies to stop future Barack Obamas and Hillary Clintons, maybe it’s necessary to revise only the party rules to stop future Donald Trumps from confronting party elites with their own unpopularity.
…Maybe the more natural condition of conservative parties is permanent defense—and where better to wage a long, grinding defensive campaign than in Congress and the statehouses? Maybe the presidency itself should be regarded as one of those things that is good to have but not a must-have, especially if obtaining it requires uncomfortable change.