So perhaps Republicans can take their cue not just from Haley Barbour, but also from Rahm Emanuel. If the former provides a guide to policy – pragmatic, relevant, a mix of fiscal sanity with effective middle-class services – the latter gives the clue on candidates. It was Emanuel, who as head of the Democratic Congressional Committee teamed up with Sen. Chuck Schumer to recruit candidates around the country to fit constituents in diverse locales. The result was two successive Congressional cycles in which attractive Democratic candidates, well-matched ideologically to their districts and states, made substantial gains, and thereby lifted the Democrats to comfortable majorities in the House and Senate.
So the Republicans have their work cut out for them, just as the Democrats did following their losses in 2000 and 2004. Devise center-right policies on bread-and-butter issues to woo back swing voters. Look to the governors for policy innovation. But politics does not operate in a vacuum or in the newpaper columns of pundits. Ultimately the GOP must find candidates who may diverge from the party “line” but can win over voters outside conservative strongholds. It is not an impossible task but it will be that much more difficult if Republicans maintain a tone of class resentment, paranoia, and vitriol and adhere to policy positions which are either extraneous or offensive to large segments of the electorate. The choice is up to them: become the Dixiecrats of the 21st century or forge a new Republican majority.
With the first bolded section, I have no quarrel. It’s the second section that is troubling. Democrats have certainly never shied away from class resentment (that eeeevilll top 5 percent!) and while there are indeed some paranoid, vitriolic Republicans, we shouldn’t blame the entire party for Sean Hannity’s shortcomings.
As to conservatism being “offensive to large segments of the electorate” — well, yes, those segments are called “liberals.”