Optics, rhetoric and perception matter. If Republicans have any hope of persuading independents, they'll need charismatic people, people who look and sound like a modern America and not a boardroom of Brahmin, because real-world competency is no match for fresh packaging and a good slogan. Welcome to democracy.
The fight starts in Congress. You've no doubt heard that the House is crammed with hard-core right-wingers, folks who have the temerity to represent constituents and take conservative positions. Well, this is also the most left-wing Senate in history. Warren, Sherrod Brown, Ben Cardin, et al. vote with socialist Bernie Sanders because -- despite a gag order on the pundit class -- by European standards, that's exactly what they are.
Whether Republicans mean what they say or not, there will be a distinct debate over the direction of the nation. Right now, left-wing economic populism is the political center. Republicans have a lot of the wrong people in a lot of the right places to change that. If that stands, they've lost for good.