Scott has an excellent post on the need for conservatives to come up with narrative.
The question that conservatives and Republicans need to be asking themselves, if, indeed, conservatives and Republicans are asking themselves the same questions at all, which isn’t at all clear, is not who to run in 2012, what element of conservatism to display most prominently, how to tinker around the edges of the ideology to make it more palatable, or even how to overhaul the ideology altogether. It is the rather simple, yet vexing question, “Why should people be excited about conservatism and the Republican party?”
Scott links to a post of mine which outlines the work of poli scientist Drew Westen. Quick review of the five most important things on winning an election.
1. Party image (narrative in Scott’s term), a sense of identity to the cause
2. Personal Qualities of Leader of Party (ability to connect to people emotionally)
3. “Gut” Qualities of Leader (can they trust you, cool under pressure, appear disciplined, etc.)
4. Policy Proposals
5. Facts about Policy Proposals
As Scott points out questions about who should lead the party are out there (#2/#3) and policy frames for a renewed conservatism (#4 & #5) but #1 is missing. I’m glad people are working on #4 and #5 so that some good could be done (hopefully) through better policy ideas and proposals, but it will be all for naught unless connected to the first point.
What I’m not sure is how they get started on #1. I imagine the purges have to continue for a pace. The point Lind was making is that for conservatism historically to gain a footing long-term politically requires the other side to have it for a bit and (eventually) corrupt and screw it up.
It’s also why I keep pointing to this idea (both in Poulos and Sullivan in different ways) that conservatism is a sorta un-philosophy and the idea of a conservative movement might be an oxymoron.
That’s not to say that the Dems might screw up their moment and the Republicans could well make partial inroads in the Congressional midterm elections. But #1 is a biggie. And if things go the way they might, then Chait has the line on where that is headed:
I have seen the future of the Republican Party, and it is the present of the Republican Party. Only perhaps more so.
Update I: Bonus anti-Palin Chait:
The enthusiasm generated by Palin shows that the party intends, wittingly or not, to replicate not just Bush’s policies but his whole operating style. She is the most Bush-like figure conceivable. Jeb Bush would be a far more dramatic departure from the incumbent than her. Her utter lack of interest in policy, her obsession with certitude (“you can’t blink, you have to be wired in a way of being so committed to the mission”), her folksiness masking incoherence–all reflect the style of The Decider. The way Palin filled her government with grossly unqualified high school cronies eerily apes even the Bushian qualities that many conservatives have come to regret.