How Republicans can rebuild after their civil war

The urge to remove certain people from your movement is not without its merits. Nuts can add savor to a dish, sure. But they can also repel. Moderates voters, and moderate members of Congress are generally allergic to nuts. Yet they are the key ingredient to building a majority party.

But if the party really wants to rebuild, it should subtract orthodoxies. If Republicans are wiped out in the Senate or even in the House, they will have an opportunity to pursue a strategy that Democrats used in 2006: Run candidates that are specifically tailored to their region. In that year, Democrats ran a protectionist, Sherrod Brown, in Ohio. They ran conservative Democrats like Jim Webb for Virginia’s Senate seat and Heath Shuler in North Carolina.

Republicans should make the leap. If it means electing protectionists in the deindustrialize mid-West and coal country, so be it. If it means electing a more secular-flavor of Republican in the Northeast, so be it. It often works out better for some of the GOP’s factions when they aren’t totally in charge. Pro-lifers benefited when pro-choice Republicans voted to confirm Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. Gun law liberalizers benefitted from the same dynamic.

The alternative, a war of all against all, is too destructive to contemplate.