Conservative commentator David Frum does a much better job than I at explaining the difficulties inherent in the GOP’s present relationship with Rush Limbaugh. Short version: Limbaugh is indeed an influential voice with a huge audience, but he maintains and grows that audience by being incredibly outspoken. As a political party survives by attracting supporters, and a significant majority of americans do not find rush attractive (on ANY level), this presents a problem if the perception that he leads the GOP is allowed to persist. He should/can not be abandoned entirely; the GOP is in no position to turn away supporters. But they do need to send the message that he is but one voice among many.

This is especially necessary as the GOP begins to face a problem similar to that posed to Hillary Clinton not too long ago: they are running out of math. Frum’s article has an entire page on how in the last decade or so, the GOP has been trounced in states/demographics where they typically dominated, esp around the reagan era. California was a republican bastion in every election from 1952-1988. Democrats have taken it easily in every election since. Florida, another once reliable stronghold, is now, along with also formerly deep-red Ohio,the quintissential tossup state. They need to connect with minority voters, or face a slow but certain death as the proportion of voting minorities in America slowly but surely increases. In 1988 Bush beat Dukakis among college educated voters by 25 points, Obama trounced McCain among this same demographic to the tune of 8 points, the first time any democrat has done so. Most alarming to the GOP is Obama’s other major success story: mobilizing the youth vote. In 1984, Reagan won voters under 30 to the tune of 20 points. My generation (the people turning 20 between 2000-2005) is the single most flamingly democratic cohort in existence, as Frum himself states:

If they eat right, exercise and wear seat belts, they will be voting against George W. Bush well into the 2060s.

All of this flies in the face of rush limbaugh’s assertions that modern conservatism needs no changes or revamps, only a more strict adherence to reaganist principles is required for success. Given the deprivations of the recent Bush administration, I can’t blame him for wanting to retreat back into the good old days. However, no party can continue campaigning on the same platform after receiving not one but two electoral repudiations in a row: between the 2006 and 2008 elections the GOP lost 14 senate and 51 house seats. Bush won reelection in 2004 by the narrowest margin in history, and that was largely due to John Kerry being just as much of an android as Al Gore. Hearkening back to reagan is not going to work with a generation that does not actively remember him. At some point the GOP must make a choice about which is more important to them: ideological purity, or actually winning elections. That time is very swiftly approaching.