Watching the fall out of the elections of the republican chattering class and thinking heads reminds me why I left that party. Hello, John McCain had it right back in 2000, you need to shrug off the Social Conservative yoke that Reagan placed on your necks and re-evaluate your policies from the Fiscal Conservative view (note: when people claim, "Most people in the US are conservative" those polls checked for fiscal conservativeness, not social issues). Slavish adherence to the social conservative agenda has run you into the ground, and you'll soon see the "base" eroding to age loss (ie. old people die at a faster rate than young people, although "old people" is a category that will continue to grow for the next two decades, these are the hippies reaching old age, not those who came of age in the conservative early 50s). So listening to all the viewpoints about where the Republican Party needs to go form here has me giggling. Newt Gingrich has thrown his hat in the ring for party leader.
As someone who sits in opposition, let me say, "You go Newt!" (insert giggling here).
Back in the late 80s and early 90s the Republicans had a full machine going for them, a machine constructed in the late 70s. It consisted of think tanks like the Heritage Foundation and other organizations, the Young Republicans, and a organization structured to bring up legal scholars and prepare them for high level positions and judgeships (the name of this group escapes me at the moment). The Democrats had nothing to counter this infrastructure and were fighting political battles with handicaps. However, in the late 90s the shift of these organizations changed from generating new ideas and shepherding new talent to justification and promulgation of conservative positions and instilling social conservative values in upcoming stars while vetting out those whose ideologies didn't quite line up (you might have seen some of this in the infamous RINO hunts). That sea change in those organizations, IMHO, is what lead to the Bush Administration and the eventual downfall of the conservative brand. The President never really lost the support of the grass-root social conservatives even though their leaders have been critical. What they lost was the support of the fiscal conservatives (aka "the moderates") in the general public.
So now the battle is joined. To the right stands the old guard that clings to the mantra, "We weren't pure enough to obtain the Holy Land. We must be purer." To the left stands the young turks who shout, "What worked in the 80s doesn't work now. We must adapt or die." (announcer voice) Let's Get Ready to Rumble!
No longer an adherent to the Republican party, I'm just a bystander. But like everybody else on fight night, I've got my pick for who'll take the dive in the 3rd round. Other than that it's popcorn and soda in the cheap seats.