Kilgore suspects that 2014 electoral victories will make the GOP overconfident in 2016:
In both 2008 and 2012 the GOP managed to nominate presidential candidates with relatively moderate images and demonstrated swing-voter appeal. In both cases, the nominations were in no small part fortuitous following a demolition derby of more ideologically rigid rivals. The odds of the “most electable” candidates winning a third straight GOP nomination have been diminished by the relatively low popularity of Chris Christie (damaged significantly by “Bridgegate” and already controversial for supporting a Medicaid expansion in his state), Jeb Bush (headed for a direct collision with conservative activists for his championship of Common Core education standards) and Marco Rubio (more distant from conservative sentiment than ever as the prime Senate sponsor of “amnesty” legislation).
Linker welcomes this turn of events. He argues that “the best chance for genuine Republican reform will be for the party to nominate a fire-brand who gets roundly and unambiguously repudiated by voters”:
That defeat, coming after two previous ones, just might provoke genuine soul-searching, and a dawning awareness that the GOP has gone down a dead end and can only find its way out by a dramatic change of direction. Think of liberals nominating New Democrat Bill Clinton after losing with Jimmy Carter, Walter Mondale, and Michael “Card-Carrying Member of the ACLU” Dukakis. Or Tony “Third Way” Blair leading the U.K.’s Labour Party to victory after 15 years in the wilderness under the Conservative Party of Margaret Thatcher and John Major. Sometimes a political party needs to get knocked upside the head before it can come back to its collective senses.
That’s what I’ll be waiting for — and what the reformicons have no choice but to hope for.