As I have noted here in several posts over the past two years, Americans are fundamentally conservative, especially the likely voters. Liberalism - except for a few urban pockets - is largely in hiding. Obama hid his agenda in talk of a new era of non-partisanship. Sotomayer hid her judicial liberalism by parroting all the things that conservatives wanted to hear. Liberals are no longer safe to walk the streets as liberals, but often use a code word - "progressive."
The economic crisis has been, in the White House's words, "too good a crisis to waste." Rather than try to sell their liberal policies on their merits, the Left has use every subterfuge it can grab. The "stimulus" was to save jobs, while it was designed to throw money at Democratic special interest groups, a classic "trickle-down" strategy that has never worked to create jobs. See Mott's Blog, "INCREASING GOVERNMENT SPENDING ON INFRASTRUCTURE WILL NOT FIX THE ECONOMY," January 2009. The cap-and-trade is about creating "green jobs" -although no one making the assertion will mention the data that show more jobs lost than created. The health care "reform" is to "control costs," but CBO and every objective observer notes that it will add to health care costs.
You get the picture: Liberals got back in power by lying about who they are. They have used their power with some success until now by lying about what they are doing.
Conservatives can complain that the traditional media (I do not think that their market share or their ouvert bias can still let them say they are mainstream) has unfairly abandoned any scrutiny of this bunch of liberals in sheeps' clothing. But whining about fairness has never been an effective political strategy.
Let's look at where the public, especially likely voters, seem at odds with the Obama Left. Government spending, more government regulation, rejection of American exceptionalism, and other themes all still have "legs" as issues. Take a page out of Gingrich's book from 1994 and find eight to ten specific issues where we can distinguish ourselves from the Obama Left. Run and that, get elected and do it.
The latest data on the 2008 election illustrate exactly how conservatives have been losing. The "Republican" brand was not tarnished because it was viewed as conservative. Americans still call themselves conservatives by a two to one margin over self-identification as "liberals." [I would like to see a "progressive" poll done!]. But the Republican Party lost credibility with conservatives over government spending. Many voters came to view the two parties as no different (Obama worked as Bill Clinton before him to obscure this difference). The result was a turnout lower in elgiible voters than 2004! The latest analysis of the 2008 election shows that proportionally fewer eligible voters turnd out than in 2004: "more older whites opted to stay home compared with 2004, citing little interest in supporting either Barack Obama or John McCain." AP, July 20, 2009. A key Republican demographic under-performed.
Re-builiding a winning conservative coalition require us to return to our key issues that have as much validity as they diud when Ronald Reagan championed them. The notion that we need a "new set of ideas" is completely caught up in the idea that government has to be doing new things for us. The government has to do some things, but our traditional view is that it can only create a framework for private enterprise, protect the nation, and keep some safety net for those left behind. Making each of these elements work better is a conservative political scope of work.
Using any issue as a lithmus test and dividing ouselves where we have differences of one or two issues will also not work. Get back to the core Republican issues, define a program, and campaign against liberals as liberals and refuse to let them change the terminology or fluff the differences.