Many in Washington, DC think the GOP is in the same place as the Democrats were in 1989. The argument from Chris Cillizza and others is that the GOP has reached a point, like the Democrats did after Dukakis lost, that they realize they have to move to the center in order to start winning presidential elections. Of course out of this came Bill Clinton and a win in 1992.
Not so fast Cillizza and company.
First, the Democrats didn’t just all wake up in January and say let’s change. Actually they process had started back in 1984. Following the debacle of Walter Mondale’s campaign in 84, a movement lead by many Southern Democrats (including Bill Clinton, Chuck Robb, Lawton Chiles and Al Gore) started to move the party to the center.
That movement crystalized in the creation of the Democratic Leadership Council. The group laid out policy positions on trade, school choice, and the Earned Income Tax Credit to show they were moving away from the positions of the party’s left-wing. DLC also helped build a national fundraising base for moderate Democrats, i.e. Bill Clinton, to run and win elections to Congress, Senate and eventually the Presidency.
Is there anything like this in GOP right now? Is there any organizing point for moderates to challenge the party’s ideological orthodoxy? The answer to both is a big NO.
Until there is anything approaching the DLC in the Republican Party the party will not begin to think about moving back toward the center. So right now you can definitely forget about them nominating someone for President who can take the party in that direction.