There’s got to be a right for the party to lurch there. And right now, the policy standards for defining a conservative are increasingly up in the air. I quibble with Ezra Klein at Ricochet:
Rather than the consolidation and triumph of some purified form of ultraconservatism, what has defined the GOP of late has been an unprecedented proliferation of counter-orthodoxies among a growing number of Republican factions and subfactions. Various components of the Republican coalition have brought to the table squishiness on gay marriage, squishiness on illegal immigration, squishiness on the drug war, squishiness on entitlements, squishiness on military spending, and squishiness on surveillance and security issues, to name a few. Big government conservatism is alive and well — but so are permissive libertarianism, corporatist Whiggery, national greatness elitism, and Jacksonian anti-globalism.
Romney’s attempt to run a traditional Reaganist/fusionist campaign failed miserably in 2008, and Pawlenty’s attempt to do the same thing failed even more miserably this year. Santorum’s votes-for-felons hit on Romney shows that not even a blue-collar Catholic from a coastal rust belt state can run as a simple conservative. When it comes to the definition of conservative, there is no settled science. There is hardly even a consensus.