Republican Rep. Tom Davis makes a few suggestions:

So what do we do? First, we eliminate checklists and litmus tests and focus on broad principles, not heavy-handed prescriptions. Free trade. Strong defense – at home and abroad. Government as small as is practicable in these times. Economic, education and energy policies that promote growth, energy independence and a competitive agenda that will allow businesses to grow and compete, not be protected by artificial barriers.

That’s it. Believe anything else you want, but advocate for those things outside the structure of the party.

I’m all for broad principles, and creating a basic framework of beliefs for the Republican Party — a party that should always support a strong national defense, free trade, pro-growth economic policy, etc.   But denying that there is a strong bloc of grassroots support for our party that comes from people who care about issues like abortion, the 2nd amendment, and gay marriage is a mistake.    We seem to believe that we will become a more popular party by nominating more candidates like John McCain, who don’t threaten the less religious and all those independents and “centrists”.  Wow.  That worked out brilliantly , didn’t it?

The current batch of Republican leaders haven’t followed the principles articulated by Rep. Davis, especially those who decided to vote for the stupid bailout.  In this rebuilding process, that’s a good place to start.  It wouldn’t be a bad thing to de-emphasize social issues, since there are much bigger fish to fry and problems to confront, as long as social conservatives know that they always have a home in the Republican Party.

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