While I stand by my contention that the Democratic Party is intellectually and morally bankrupt, I'll concede Republicans are floundering right now. Ideologically, this is a center-right nation, and yet Republicans lost at the polls. Democrats are going to continue being who they are, but Republicans need to come home.
It's true our congressional losses were not unusual for a midterm election, especially in the president's second term. But if the party had stuck to its principles, it wouldn't have sustained such losses. Republicans need to find their voice again, and well before the 2008 elections, which will be a formidable challenge.
Before addressing the points of conflict, let's consider the principles upon which most Republicans agree. Most agree on lower taxes, lower spending, less government regulation, a strong national defense and originalist judges. Our elected Republican representatives haven't always lived up to these principles, but they remain our principles.
Unfortunately the intra-party differences are many and growing in intensity. The issue of immigration is particularly divisive. Wall Street Journal conservatives are militantly open-borders. They seem to view border control advocates with an elitist disdain, attributing their views to a nativist, xenophobic strain. The border control activists resent the mischaracterization of their passion to preserve our sovereignty and unique American culture as racist. Many of them see the open-borders policy of the elite as wrong-headed naivete at best and economic idolatry at worst.
Maybe there is some merit in the contention that the stridency of some of the more extreme in the closed-borders group turned off Hispanic voters. But that's a comment on tone, not policy. Besides, the election results on this matter are ambiguous. I think the open borders crowd grossly underestimates the breadth of the border control constituency, which is not limited to single-issue extremists. Growing numbers of mainstream conservatives (and others) regard laxity toward immigration, our language and the cohesiveness of our culture as ultimately threatening to the republic.
Social issues are another area of deepening conflict on the right. It's not just former Sen. John Danforth and former Bush faith-based advisor David Kuo complaining about Christian conservatives and their involvement in politics. There are many country club Republicans, Libertarians, agnostics, atheists and others who, though otherwise conservative, have had enough of "intolerant," "intermeddling," social conservatives who they mistakenly believe want to regulate their bedrooms.