Republican Purgatory: How Long Will It Last?

Republicans are working furiously to develop a comeback strategy. Can they pull it off?

From the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal to the National Review Online, Republicans are working furiously to develop a comeback strategy.

The range of proposals and tactics runs the gamut from abandoning the religious right, to staying the course, to purging traitorous big-government conservatives lured by pork and power.

"Republicans walked away from the principles that minted our governing majority in 1980 and 1994," declared Mike Pence, the newly elected chair of the House Republican Conference. "There is a way out of the wilderness. But it will require humility, vision, positive alternatives and a willingness to fight for what makes America great."


That's not enough, counsels the American Enterprise Institute's David Frum: "College-educated Americans have come to believe that their money is safe with Democrats--but that their values are under threat from Republicans. And there are more and more of these college-educated Americans all the time. So the question for the GOP is: will it pursue them? To do so will involve painful change, on issues ranging from the environment to abortion. And it will potentially involve even more painful changes of style and tone: toward a future that is less overtly religious, less negligent with policy, and less polarizing on social issues. That is a future that leaves little room for [Sarah] Palin--but it is the only hope for a Republican recovery."

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Thomas B. Edsall is the political editor of the Huffington Post. He is also Joseph Pulitzer II and Edith Pulitzer Moore Professor at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism.