You've probably heard the story of the child who was asked at a custody hearing which parent he wanted to go home with. One parent gave him everything he wanted, promised him more, and allowed him to do pretty much as he pleased. The other parent told him he'd have to work hard and earn the things he wanted, that he'd have to follow certain rules and meet certain behavioral expectations.
Which parent do you think the child chose to live with?
The Republican party finds itself today in the situation of the parent who told the child that he'd have to work hard and follow the rules. There's just no way they can compete for votes among an electorate in which a majority of people, like the child in the custody story, will vote for whomever promises them the most stuff.
Mr. Obama offers "free" medical care, "free" birth control, "free" cell phones, "free" housing and "free" food. Does the child care how the parent will pay for their amenities? No, all the child cares about is that he's going to get them and that he's not the one who'll have to pay. Nor will he have to do anything more arduous to get them than fill out a form.
It's been said that a democracy can only exist until the majority discovers it can vote itself money out of the public treasury. After that, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits which inevitably eventuates in the collapse of the democracy which is ultimately supplanted by a tyranny.
The base of Mr. Obama's plurality consists largely of the poor and young people. These are two of the least invested demographic groups in our nation. They're the least informed, they usually pay little to no income tax, and they're often the most indifferent to politics, but their numbers are growing. They're a major reason why Mr. Obama won in both 2008 and 2012.
Republicans have before them three roads that they can take. They can either resign themselves to being a rump party, irrelevant to the governance of the country; or they can morph into a kind of Democrat-lite, abandon their conservative principles and pander to the various groups that comprise the majority of voters; or they can find a better way to teach those principles and make them more attractive to those whose support they need.
I vote for the third option, fully recognizing that it'll be the most difficult to pull off. It'll be very much like trying to convince the child that it's in his best interest to go with the parent who offers him discipline and responsibility, but the future of the country and of our children depends upon it.