Jim Antle stresses the need for conservatives to judge Republican politicians by what they are able to accomplish:
There is one more step in this evolution: evaluating whether conservatives are actually producing results. Too often, conservatives measure that by the volume of liberal outrage a Republican political figure inspires.
What Antle is talking about here is the need to place greater value on competence when selecting and judging candidates. If there has been one thing that has driven people away from the GOP in droves in the last decade, it is simple incompetence. When Republicans were in control, it is this incompetence that made poor policy decisions more likely, and it was incompetence that turned already bad policy decisions into disasters. Unfortunately, many post-2008 Republicans have placed more value on striking the right poses than on knowing what they’re doing in office or on learning what they don’t know, and their supporters have more often than not rewarded them for this.
Republicans have lost three of the last four elections, so they are in a much weaker position to deliver for their constituents than they were a decade ago. Of course, they are in that weaker position today because the party did such an abysmal job when it was in power, and many in the party still don’t understand why they lost in ’06 and ’08. Since then, the party has adopted an agenda that it cannot possibly advance until it controls both houses of Congress and the Presidency, but has not yet found a way to win the elections necessary to make that happen. In spite of this, the party’s ambitions have not changed. Losing the last election seems to have exhausted Republicans’ patience rather than forcing them to scale back their ambitions. Winning parties are often guilty of overreaching and imagining that they have an electoral mandate to advance their preferred agenda no matter what, but it is very unusual for a losing party to have the same delusions of grandeur.