If you haven’t yet read David Frum’s prescription for conservative reformers today, please do. While of course anyone could dispute any particular point, it’s as good of a summary of what needs to be done to get the Republican Party back on track as I’ve seen — and certainly from anyone within the broad GOP orbit.
Both Greg Sargent and Ed Kilgore react by making the perfectly reasonable point that today’s Republican Party isn’t anywhere close to accepting Frum’s agenda. Nor is it likely to do so any time soon. That’s true! And it’s also highly unlikely that any political party will change dramatically simply because party-aligned pundits, or even party-aligned policy experts, decide on their own to change it.
However, at some point in the future, there may be an excellent chance for the Republican Party to heal itself. That could come from a Republican president who wants to have a substantive agenda rather than an symbolic one; it could come from Republican politicians and Republican campaign and governing professionals who get desperate to win office; it could come from Republican-aligned interest groups who believe that their substantive interests are not being served by a party increasingly unwilling and unable to do policy.
And if and when that happens, it sure would be useful for them to have some idea of what a healthy Republican Party would look like, and what it would have to say — and even more importantly, to do — about the major issues of the day.
So, yes, the conservative reformers as a group aren’t really doing anything very important yet, and yes, they can’t really bully a party reacting to very different incentives to accept what they want. But it’s part of getting healthy. Those of us who believe that one of the biggest things wrong with the American political system today is the broken Republican Party should be urging the conservative reformers on, even if it’s unlikely they can accomplish much by themselves.