It is a test being imposed on everyone who wants the GOP nomination, and it has never been more stringent or located farther to the right—a sign of the stranglehold the Tea Party has on the process.
Never mind that a position was perfectly acceptable for a Republican in 2008; if it fails the Purity Test now, it must be explained away, preferably with an apology. George W. Bush and John McCain would be laughed off the stage these days for the positions they took on immigration.
No one in the GOP wants to hear about “compassionate conservatism,” not when debate audiences are booing a gay soldier and cheering the death of a hypothetical emergency-room patient without insurance. Obamacare is so thoroughly loathed that nobody bothers to ask these candidates what they would do about the 50 million uninsured Americans if it were repealed—including young people under 26 who are now covered by their parents’ policies.