Until the ideas themselves change, our politics is going to be stuck with the dynamic that Matt Yglesias describes all-too-accurately here, in the context of the minimum wage debate — with Democrats proposing questionable policies that nonetheless address real challenges, Republicans declining to counter with serious policies of their own, and Democrats eventually winning the policy debate more or less by default (or else winning politically because the problems keep festering and the G.O.P. just looks out of touch). I don’t think that dynamic can last forever, for reasons I’ve elaborated on before, and I’m hopeful that the 2016 election will be healthier for the right than 2012 turned out to be. But right now, the pattern of the last two political cycles still holds: Real Republican reinvention is a cause in search of a standard bearer, and the right’s reformers are doing a far, far better job proposing solutions to the G.O.P.’s dilemmas (and the country’s problems) than they are persuading actual Republican politicians to embrace them.
Perfectly put. Barro is on the same page:
Unlike many on the right, Gerson, Wehner and Ponnuru have correctly diagnosed the economic challenges that Republicans aren’t addressing. (Gerson and Wehner identify “stagnant wages, the loss of blue-collar jobs, exploding health-care and college costs.”) And they have even advanced some ideas that would improve matters. But the key word there is “some”: All three writers leave unaddressed major Republican stumbling blocks with the middle class. Particularly, they are far from developing health-care and fiscal policies that can serve middle-class interests.