I don’t think the answer lies in confronting Republican candidates with non-negotiable lists of positions they must vow to uphold. The problem with this approach is that it focuses too much energy on compelling politicians, instead of persuading voters. There are places where the GOP falls down so badly that a third-party candidate makes sense, but we should also keep in mind that the Republican Party has money and influence that can be very useful to the conservative cause, and we won’t get it by scowling at them and making throat-slitting gestures. The promising young conservative politicians of the moment combine a wonderful degree of confidence and determination with an affable, welcoming style. Doug Hoffman doesn’t seem interested in burning the Republican house to the ground, despite the party’s many offenses against him. The energetic captain of the Millennium Palin doesn’t waste a lot of time talking about who she’d like to shove out the airlock.

If the Right can get the voters on board, most of the squishier politicians will begin sliding to starboard. The voters can be reached. A review of recent polls, the soaring ratings of Fox News, and the popularity of outspoken critics of the Left, such as Glenn Beck, tells us that people know something is terribly wrong. They don’t see the Democrats’ diagnoses as accurate, or their solutions as effective. They’re waiting to hear a coherent explanation from the political leadership of the opposition. It’s not enough to give Americans someone to applaud… they need someone to vote for.