Much ink has been spilled recently over the plans of the Republicans to find their collective ways out of the political wilderness in which they currently reside.
Most of the Republican answer has been "We weren't conservative enough. We increased govt spending, ran up the national debt, and socialized the banks," and all signs point to that being the message going forward.
There's a bit of a problem with that analysis though.
The Republicans were booted primarily for two reasons: Iraq and the economy.
For the moment, we should recognize that the Republican response to this entirely ignores Iraq. By not addressing Iraq, they proponents of the party as it moves forward are leaving a huuuuuge hole in their future plans, and its mainly due to the Bush doctrine of preemptive war that is still vigorously defended in Republican circles, and further includes the policies of torture, rendition, and domestic spying - also all vigorously defended in Republican circles.
Rush L will certainly continue to argue that we were right to go to Iraq, that we were right to torture, that we were right to let the govt spy on us ad infinitum. To do otherwise would be to admit that he was wrong, no that Bush was. And make no mistake, Michale Steele is not the head of the Republican party. Rush is.
Reason two - the economy.
When Regan took office the US was the largest lender on the planet and imported the most goods. In the interim we have become the largest debtor on the planet and have shifted to an economy that relys on exports (a largely third-world situation).
The fiscal policies of the last 29 years have destroyed our manufacturing base, neglected our infrastructure, and crippled our ability to keep pace in the education and information race. Until the Republican staples in those areas (tax cuts for corporations, total deregulation, refusal to spend on infrastructure, neglect for poverty and education) get changed, the elephants will find fewer and fewer ears willing to listen to thier voices.
A better path forward?
Focus on poverty. The christian conservatives can probably deal with that. Then deal with fiscal responsibility in a way that doesnt demonize spending on infrastructure. In fact, rebrand infrastructure as American Corporate Investment. Finally, formulate a free-market solution to most other problems that aggressively rips apart monopolies and corporate fraud. The free market would work fine in situations where it isnt allowed to devolve into oligarchy. Follow Obama's lead on ethics and the aggresive removal of corporate interests from Washington. There is much common ground there that can be had, and the unwillingness to find that common ground will occur at the risk of becoming the second Whig party.