And I have a second litmus test - end the Bush bashing unless you are President and can do better. Bush’s Compassionate Conservatism is a great new model. And it has been a huge success. It avoided creating factories of embryos for the creation of spare parts - probably one of history’s most important decision points in terms of being pro-life. Abortion is bad, but it is an individual choice which is losing its luster. Government sanctioned and funded factories of embryos destined for destruction (and probably representing more human beings than those in wombs waiting to be born) would have been the proverbial pact with the devil. And George Bush avoided this path against great pressure.
His work on education (schools now get and “F” when they fail to teach), Senior Citizen health and quality of life (access to prescriptions IS lowering health care costs), taxes and the war - to name a few - have been enormous successes outshining even Reagan.
There are conservatives who seem to be meeting the challenges of today. Mitt Romney stands out in this regard, and certainly deserves better than he is getting from some quarters in the GOP. George W. Bush, for all the complaints of the commissar wing of the GOP, did the same.
When one puts upholding the tenets of an ideology paramount in solving problems, failure is sure to follow. George W. Bush and Mitt Romney both saw this, and both of them dealt with it in an appropriate manner - they use their beliefs to guide their solution, but refused to let them dictate a solution.
Ultimately, if the GOP wants to win, they'll focus on solving the problem. If they do that, it will leave the left with few options, and it will de-power the hard right at well. Both the left and the hard right are more interested in money instead of real solutions.