I have a great many friends who wish for the day that the Republican Party manages to make the transition that the Conservative Party (of Britain or of Canada, take your pick, but more the former) has managed to make. After all, right now the Democratic Party is a responsible and centrist beast, but just you wait until we've gotten universal health care and placed Medicare on a sustainable basis! Sure, taxes will be higher, and yes, the country will be fairer, but would that really be enough? At that point people like me are going to need a smackdown from ... Republicans as they used to be.
In two party systems, as Mark Schmitt wrote, parties rarely die. But they do, it has happened. And so, here's my question, to which I would really like an answer.
Why didn't the Liberal Democrats succeed in killing off the Tories? You would have thought they could do it, between the death of what Americans would call "culture war" issues in Britain, Labour's seizure of traditional Tory views on civil liberties and foreign affairs, and the continuing battles over who will better manage the great U.K. welfare state. Yet they didn't, and so a kinder gentler Conservative Party looks to obtain the next electoral mandate. Substantively, it's all good (although I understand that vets of tribal British politics might not feel that way), but I'd really like to know: why couldn't the Lib Dems seize the moment?