Make no mistake, taking the lead on these issues alone certainly won’t ensure GOP success in 2016. I support conservatives taking the initiative on them first and foremost because they are good policy, both morally and philosophically. But as an added benefit, they do have the potential to help the GOP with constituencies they failed to connect with last November – and do so without sacrificing any central tenet of conservatism.
This is not moderation. On the fundamental issues of economic and foreign policy, conservatives are in the right.
But outside of being right on the issues, the GOP needs to communicate conservatism better. They have to explain to the American public how conservative ideas can revive America. Conservatives need happy warriors — leaders who “grin when they fight,” to paraphrase the great Winston Churchill.
Conservative leaders also have to be in touch with the culture. In theory, this should not matter all that much. In practice, it does. Obama connected with the public in a way Mitt Romney did not. That may not have been the only reason Obama won re-election, or even the predominant reason, but it certainly benefited Obama.
What conservatives need is someone who is, well, Rubio-esque. Conservatives need a candidate who is not only instinctively conservative, but one who can passionately and persuasively communicate conservatism — a candidate who can go into any environment and meet with any constituency without seeming awkward or out of place.
It’s true that few of the GOP’s potential 2016 candidates fit that bill. It is, after all, a hard bill to fit.
It just may be that in 2016 conservatives will come to the conclusion that there is no one more Rubio-esque than Florida Sen. Marco Rubio himself.