ORLANDO, Florida – For decades the same ritual has taken place following Republican election defeats.
Moderate, establishment-aligned party officials would argue that the candidates had veered too far to the right on issues such as immigration, as well as in their language, and would recommend a return to the political center. And Conservatives would argue that Republicans have given up on real faith and need to go back to first principles to distinguish themselves from Democrats and claim victory.
One could be forgiven for having missed this debate in the aftermath of 2020, because it is barely taking place. Republicans have entered a sort of post-political moment in which the party’s liveliest forces are the emotions, not the problems.
This change was highlighted last weekend at the Conservative Political Action Conference, where the Trumpification of the annual rally and the former president’s vow of revenge on his intra-party criticisms made headlines.
But what was not said at the event is just as striking. There has been very little discussion of why Republicans have lost the Presidency, House and Senate in the past four years, nor much debate over what platform they should pursue to rebuild the party.
The lack of soul-searching owes in part to the surprise gains of Republicans in the House and the denial of many activists that they have lost the White House, a false claim enthusiastically perpetuated by former President Donald J. Trump himself. even on …
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