At the behest of the Blue Yeti -- who'd like you to know that Mike Murphy will be guesting on an upcoming episode of the Ricochet Podcast -- I offer for your consideration Mr. Murphy's diagnosis of what ails the GOP, courtesy of his latest entry at Time's Swampland blog:
The Republican challenge is not about better voter-turnout software; it is about policy. We repel Latinos, the fastest-growing voter group in the country, with our nativist opposition to immigration reform that offers a path to citizenship. We repel younger voters, who are much more secular than their parents, with our opposition to same-sex marriage and our scolding tone on social issues. And we have lost much of our once solid connection to the middle class on kitchen-table economic issues.
A debate will now rage inside the GOP between the purists, who will as always call for more purity, and the pragmatists, who will demand modernization. The media, always culturally alien to intra-Republican struggles, will badly mislabel this contest as one between “moderate” and “right-wing” Republicans. In fact, the epic battle we Republicans face now is a choice between two definitions of conservatism.
One offers steadfast opposition to emerging social trends like multiculturalism and secularization. The alternative is a more secular and modernizing conservatism that eschews most social issues to focus on creating a wide-open opportunity society that promises greater economic freedom and the reform of government institutions like schools that are vital to upward social mobility.
Over at Bloomberg, Josh Barro dissents:
The Republican Party's key electoral problem doesn't come from social conservatives or nativists. It comes from the economic policy demands of the party's wealthy donors. Murphy allows that Republicans "have lost much of our once solid connection to the middle class on kitchen-table economic issues." But his prescription won't do anything to fix that problem.
What are the "kitchen-table" economic concerns of the middle class? They're high unemployment, slow income growth, underwater mortgages, and the rising cost of health care and higher education. Democrats have an agenda that is responsive to these concerns. Republicans don't -- and they don't because the party's donor class specifically doesn't want one.
Have you spoken with a wealthy Republican donor in the last few years? By and large, they are outraged about Obamacare, easy money and stimulus spending -- that is, at policies aimed at easing middle class families' economic situations. They are often delusionally convinced that the country faces imminent economic collapse. What they believe will prevent that collapse is tight money, spending cuts and continued tax cuts for the rich. And so long as Republicans pursue those goals, they will be the party of anti-middle class economic policy.
Now, both Murphy and Barro are not exactly known for towing the standard conservative line. But everyone seems to agree that something needs to be done. How perceptive do you find the analysis here? What are they getting wrong? And what alternative strategies might you propose?