After a second crushing defeat in a row, it's not surprising that there is a debate in the GOP about whether the party should move to the right or even further towards center.
Like many conservatives, I'm of the opinion that we should move back to the right and try to formulate some new ideas and messaging using conservative principles. However, some people disagree. For the people who do, I have some pertinent questions for which no convincing answers have yet been offered.
If you're going to argue that the party needs to move even further away from conservatism, especially on issues like fiscal conservatism and illegal immigration, I'd suggest that these are questions that need to be answered first.
#1) If both the GOP and the Democrats support bigger government, how does the country survive long term given the size of the debt we already have and the deficits we're running right now? In other words, how can running massive deficits possibly be sustainable over the long haul?
#2) If the GOP were to officially become a big government party, wouldn't there be a real danger of having a large third party spring up that would represent the considerable number (I'd say a majority, at least in the abstract) of Americans who do want smaller government and less spending?
#3) If the GOP becomes a big government party, how do you see us differentiating ourselves from the Democratic Party? Do we spend almost as much as they do, but not quite as much? Do we spend even more? Do we favor deficit spending, but just on different things? Isn't there a real danger that Democrats -- since their base tends to generally be OK with excessive spending -- could simply outbid us on anything we offered to the American people?
#4) Since the majority of the GOP's core supporters don't agree with "moderate" positions like big spending or amnesty, feel very strongly about it, and feel those positions harm the party politically, how can the party continue to hew to those positions over the long term without being permanently at odds with the people who should be their strongest supporters?
#5) Let's do the math on amnesty: there are roughly 12-20 million illegal immigrants, most of whom are Hispanics. Hispanics broke 70/30 for the Democrats in 2006 and 69/31 for the Dems in 2008 according to the latest exit poll data. If the split stayed at 70/30 and 12-20 million new illegals were made citizens, that would mean the Democrats would add another 4.8 to 8 million potential new voters as a result of amnesty. The top end of that scale is a larger margin than what Barack Obama won by in 2008.