If someone had woken you from a dead sleep 20 years ago and asked what the Republican Party stood for, you would’ve had no trouble answering: Fiscal restraint, a strong national defense and lower taxes. Those were the three pillars of the GOP. The party’s brand was clear. Voters understood it, and many approved. In the days before Obama, Republicans won seven out of ten presidential elections.
Things have changed for the muddier. Scratch the surface and you’ll find there is no longer a consensus among Republicans on foreign policy. Fiscal restraint? Years of earmarks, record deficits and at least one new federal entitlement under Republican congresses make that idea a bitter joke.
Of the three principles that have united the party since Reagan, only taxes remain. Republicans have been able to claim — sincerely, and with continuing success at the ballot box — that they are for lower taxes.