Simply, note how Republican candidatesespecially challengersare touting their plans to cut spending, adopt a stronger conservative stance, and be more pro-jobs than ever. The Czar sees it in campaign literature, television commercials, and stump speeches. There are three outcomes:
- First, the politician is lying. He might say these things to get votes, but has no intention of bucking the status quo. This is inevitable, but likely unsustainable: he will find himself replaced by the next guy, unless he changes course midstream.
- He was a big government moderate, but now realizes he has several challengers on his tail. By adopting a smaller government position, he can use his name recognition to push back smaller newcomers. The Czar believes this is where Messrs. Romney, Santorum, and Gingrich find themselvesnewly converted, they drink the water. Unless of course they want to lose their jobs in four years.
- Third, the guy means it. He knows that taking on a small government, pro-job position will gain votes and can use this to attack the fat and happy incumbent.
Any candidate who promises these things can be one of these three; but the important thing is how new this is (since 2008). The status quo is slowly shifting. Like any battleship, it will take time to turn; but turning it is. Candidates are now competing on how conservative they are. Can you imagine John McCain or Bob Dole screaming out how severely conservative he is? Of course, now you could, but prior to 2009, not at all.
This is all a good thing even if we are impatient with its progress. The small successes of more conservative candidates in 2010, like the sea turtles who make it to the water safely, inspire the rest to try. Even if the tide is still against them, the fact that candidates are pushing hard to convince us of their conservative credentials offers some reassurance for the future.
In a decade, maybe less, the GOP will again be a conservative party. Good things are happening, but the wait grows increasingly painful.