Douthat’s most recent column basically make the same point I was trying to make in this post, only he makes it better than I did. I agree with his entire thesis:

  • Blaming the 2012 loss on demographics is the easy way out, because it suggests that moving left on a couple of issues is enough to save the GOP.
  • Whatever you think of the merits of a liberal approach to immigration reform, it’s not the silver bullet that will win the Hispanic vote and it will further alienate some of the white voters the GOP has been having trouble keeping.
  • An economic agenda that actually addressed the needs of working- and middle-class would raise the party’s appeal to white and non-white voters alike.
  • The greatest obstacle to the reform of the GOP is not its voting base of socially-conservative voters but its funding base.

During the campaign, I said the “47%” business wasn’t going to hurt Romney much because the old white guys who form the core of the GOP base, and who are disproportionately dependent on government, don’t think of themselves as such, and so don’t think Romney was talking about them. I suspect I was right about that – but “47%” remains the best symbol of what is fundamentally wrong with the GOP’s outlook. It speaks of a party that thinks that some of the country are the shareholders, and some of the country are employees, and that the job of the country’s management is to increase shareholder value, even if it’s at the expense of stakeholders like employees.

One can agree with or disagree with this model as the best way to run a business – there’s a perfectly cogent argument to be made that stakeholders should have some representation in management, and that’s the way a lot of successful Northern European countries run their business sector – but it’s a politically catastrophic way to think about a nation.

I don’t agree that an alternative economic agenda for the GOP is ready-to-hand, though I do agree that there are some interesting ideas out there to be explored. But even if the agenda were there, I agree with Ross that reformers face an uphill battle to actually win party support for it. And even if there were more willingness to support just about anything in the name of winning again, there’s a whole mentality that undergirds the current GOP that needs to be uprooted.