Daniel Larison once again points out the obvious:
It seems to me that conservatives and Republicans have assumed the GOP is the natural governing party, at least regarding the Presidency and to some extent as it relates to Congress since ‘94, which is why so many have continued to insist that America is a “center-right nation” in face of mounting evidence that it is not and hasn’t been for a while. Symbolic gimmickry does stem in part from a lack of confidence, but it is more the product of a movement and party that have ceased to understand, much less address, most of the pressing concerns of working- and middle-class Americans. The party assumes that all it needs to do is show up, push the right pseudo-populist buttons and reap the rewards, and for the most part the movement cheers. See Palin, Sarah.
The GOP settles for offering “symbolic, substance-free BS” because enough conservatives are already persuaded that Republican policies obviously benefit the middle class, so there is no pressure to make Republican policy actually serve the interests of Republican constituents. It is taken for granted that this is already happening, but voters have been showing for several cycles that many of them do not believe this. Politically Democrats have been gaining ground in such unlikely places as Ohio and Indiana, which would be inexplicable if the GOP obviously and reliably represented working- and middle-class Americans. Of course, lately these voters don’t see it that way, but instead see the right’s pseudo-populists denounce workers for being overpaid, reject measures that would direct some spending to American industries that their free trade zeal has helped gut and even talk about a spending freeze in the middle of a severe recession.
Republicans are having trouble getting middle class votes because Republican policies have not only hurt, but eroded the size of the middle class. He continues:
As we all know, income stagnation is something that most conservatives and Republicans have spent years pretending was not happening, because it did not fit in with the assumption that working- and middle-class Americans were thriving as part of the “greatest story never told.” It is the failure to acknowledge and address all of these things along with the preference for using symbolic gimmickry that begin to account for the lamentable states of conservatism and the GOP. There is also the war, but movement and party have become so invested in it that I have my doubts whether they can ever recognize its role in discrediting both with the public.
I honestly think that is the first time I have ever seen anyone right of center admit to wage and income stagnation. Seriously. But you know what will fix that? Capital gains tax cuts! You betcha!
Meanwhile, what is the conservative brain trust doing at CPAC? Watch and see:
With all the world melting down around them, in between posing with life size cut-outs of Sarah Palin and attending Joe the Plumber book signings, speakers at CPAC are spending their time suggesting that Obama is a communist and is not an American.
The irony of all of this is what we are actually seeing is not the meltdown of the Republican party, but something bigger than that. The Grover Norquist troglodyte right is drowning themselves in the bathtub before our very eyes. It is truly a sight to see.