Shut up about what the Republican party needs to do to rebuild itself. Think back to 2002, when a post-9/11 Bush-led Republican party had just handed us our asses in the midterm elections even though the Congress had caved and given Bush the permission he desired to go to war in Iraq. We'd been in the minority in the House for 8 years by then, our lead in the Senate was tenuous during the best of times and would soon disappear, and we were hearing the early whispers about a permanent Republican majority. Those noises got worse in 2004, after Kerry lost and Democrats lost a number of seats in the House and Senate. You couldn't open a website without reading some Republican telling you that what the Democrats needed to do to remain relevant was to move right, to abandon those silly notions like a woman's rights to choose, or LGBT rights, or protecting Social Security or the right to organize.

Remember how aggravating that was? Remember how that inspired you to work even harder to make your issues more relevant, to make your arguments more sound, and to find leaders who would listen to you and stand up for what you believed in? Yeah, well that's what hard-core conservatives are feeling when you smile at them and give them "friendly advice." They're giving you the finger and vowing to roll the clock back to the 12th century instead of the 15th when they get back into power. You're hardening them, in other words.

Besides, you're not going to convert them. The best you can hope for is that they'll look around, see that the country is doing better economically and that the gays aren't sodomizing straight people in the streets, that Muslims haven't invaded our unguarded Florida panhandle border and haven't gained a foothold at the Milton KOA where they're planning an attack on Eglin Air Force Base, and maybe, just maybe they'll back off some of their harsher positions. And if they don't, so much the better for us. But they're definitely not going to come around if we play into the caricature they have of us in their heads.

So here's my suggestion to progressive bloggers tempted to analyze what Republicans need to do to save their party.

Don't.

You don't know their party. You might think you do; you might be convinced that you've got it all figured out, but the truth is this: we don't have our own stuff figured out right now. We've got more than a handful of problems to deal with, and we're in charge now, so we don't have time to stick our noses into their business, especially since anything we have to say will be ignored anyway.

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