When I first moved to Washington, about 6 years ago, my roommate at the time worked for a liberal non-profit, and as you do when you’re 22 and new to town, I spent a good deal of time with her colleagues and friends, all of whom shared her ideological bent.
At the time, we lamented that the Republican Party was so good at messaging and ideological purity that it left the Democrats to be “the party of everyone else.” We thought that meant the Democrats would never be able to form a unified front, to counter the focus of the Republicans.
Which led me to question, does the Republican party as it stands right now have a built in liability? Do people who think government is too big, too overreaching, inevitably see those who govern in negative light, regardless of party and platform? And if you run on the idea of the less government the better, are you running yourself out of a job?
Poll after poll shows that politicians with unbelievable approval ratings during primary and general election campaigns find an immediate drop off when the get down to the business of governing. For small-government Republicans, does the very act of governing betray the ideas they ran on?
Now, the vast majority of the Republican Party wants smaller government, not no government. Most understand that there are functions that only the federal government can accomplish. But a growing subset of the party holds the vast majority of government in contempt, meaning that the second a Republican stalwart is elected, he becomes part of the problem.
The younger me finds this comforting, a leveling of the playing field. If the Democrat’s tent is too big, then the Republican’s tent may be growing just small enough to squeeze out all but the most ideological incumbents in the federal government.