This is the poison in our politics. Nothing changes until it changes. Somebody has to initiate it, and the people I named are the only people who can. Of conservative thinkers—and I apologize to him in advance for naming him, because I’m sure praise from me in this context will make him wince—only David Frum has addressed this problem. His 2011 New York magazine essay “When Did the GOP Lose Touch With Reality?” said it well. He understands that this problem is one of the central facts of our current historical moment.
Tomasky nails it: the GOP's problems won't be solved by more moderate positions on immigration and gay marriage. The entrenched institutions on the right that profit from selling outrage (e.g. Limbaugh, Fox News) continue to create an alternate reality that is the basis for a climate of anger, resentment and extremism. My conversations with Republican friends highlight this reality gap. They reel off GOP talking points that they see as unquestioned fact (Obama is a secret socialist, he goes abroad apologizing for America, tax cuts for the wealthy grow the economy) which the fact check websites have debunked one by one.
This reality gap is a big reason for the decline in support for Republican candidates among young voters. As noted by Robert Draper in last week's New York Times Magazine, young voters decribed the GOP as
“Corporate greed.”“Old.”“Middle-aged white men.” “Rich.” “Religious.” “Conservative.” “Hypocritical.” “Military retirees.” “Narrow-minded.” “Rigid.” “Not progressive.” “Polarizing.” “Stuck in their ways.”