David Brooks sees it as a fight between Traditionalists and Reformers.
To regain power, the Traditionalists argue, the G.O.P. should return to its core ideas: Cut government, cut taxes, restrict immigration. Rally behind Sarah Palin.
Well, as Patterico notes, cutting government and taxes and reforming immigration sounds good to me. I don't know anyone who considers supporting Sarah Palin to be a "core value," although many with traditional values do like her very much.
Who are the Reformers?
The other camp, the Reformers, argue that the old G.O.P. priorities were fine for the 1970s but need to be modernized for new conditions. The reformers tend to believe that American voters will not support a party whose main idea is slashing government. The Reformers propose new policies to address inequality and middle-class economic anxiety. They tend to take global warming seriously. They tend to be intrigued by the way David Cameron has modernized the British Conservative Party.
Moreover, the Reformers say, conservatives need to pay attention to the way the country has changed. Conservatives have to appeal more to Hispanics, independents and younger voters. They cannot continue to insult the sensibilities of the educated class and the entire East and West Coasts.
Well, I agree with some of these ideas, too. I don't think we can simply ignore environmental concerns, but neither can we enact policies (as Obama will most assuredly do) that devastate our industries.
The biggest problem Republicans will have is luring Hispanics to the party. Culturally, Hispanics have far more in common with Republicans than Democrats. But immigration makes it very hard for Latinos to vote for the GOP. Unless that changes, we will be in a permanent minority.
I am an "enforcement" person when it comes to immigration, a position that has gotten me thrown off a board for being "racist." My position is that we should enforce the laws we have; if we don't want to enforce those laws, then change them. One thing that should be changed quickly is to drastically raise the number of people who can come here from Mexico legally (I'm talking about an exponential change). The only way to encourage people to come here legally is to make it easy enough to discourage taking the risk of coming illegally.
I don't want to reward illegals for breaking our laws, but the last two years has shown that balking at immigration reform is worse.
So, IMO, I see no reason Republicans shouldn't champion smaller government and allowing the personal freedom that comes with keeping your own money. At the same time, we should work towards tax credits and rewards that encourage industries to go to cleaner technologies, including coal, wind, water, and nuclear energy. We will have to make considerable concessions to Hispanics in the area of immigration (I think raising or lifting the cap on the number of Mexican immigrants might do it) to get their attention and start building their trust in the GOP before they become entrenched in the Democratic Party.
Mostly, the GOP has to find a way to be the loyal opposition to Barack Obama and the Democrats running Congress. I don't think that will be terribly hard, because many of the same policies they champion will hurt Hispanics specifically (who are typically at the bottom of the ladder economically and will lose their jobs if wage hikes force job cuts) and hurt others, including small business owners, generally. But just being against Democratic policies will not be enough. We will have to come up with reasonable, attractive alternatives to their ideas. The field is wide open now, and I don't think it will be that difficult to find those ideas.