Republicans have very little in the way of popular policy proposals to counter the appeal of liberalism. The Republican presidential candidates have not built their campaigns on offering conservative ideas that would give any direct help to families trying to make ends meet. Their tax-cut proposals are almost all focused on people who make much more than the average voter. So far, Republicans do not seem to be even trying to erode the Democratic advantage on middle-class economics.Some Republicans- the ones who do think about things, not the ones who abandoned "political coach" for "thought leader" with the flick of a trend line- are concerned about this. But, as John Quiggin notes, at Crooked Timber, they are too blinkered to know what to do about it:
All this is obvious enough, but it raises the question: rather than asking the Republicans to be more like Clinton, something they are obviously not going to do, why not just vote for Clinton? Or, for that matter, Sanders, who looks even better on these criteria.
The answer is pretty obvious. For whatever reason, Ponnuru is on Team Republican, as are other “reformicons” like Ross Douthat. But the Republican Party has shown little interest in his ideas, and the presidential aspirants none at all. So, he is in the position of a committed football fan who thinks his team is pursuing a bad strategy, or has picked the wrong players: the idea of following a different team is not an option.
As Damon Linker says here, this isn’t just a problem for the reformicons, but for anyone who aspires to the description “conservative intellectual”, and wants to engage with party politics.