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Sunday, October 22, 2017

And last week Bob Dole, well-respected former senator and onetime presidential nominee, gave GOP leaders a bit of advice: “I think they ought to put a sign on the national committee doors that says ‘closed for repairs’ until New Year’s Day next year and spend that time going over ideas and positive agendas.”

Here’s hoping Republican strategists do as Dole suggested — figuratively, anyway. The GOP needs to reinvent itself as a party dedicated to policies that offer solutions to current problems. That’s what Democratic leaders did back in the mid-1980s, when they finally came to terms with their growing obsolescence.

The Democratic Party was in a similar slough then. It was riven with competing factions, saddled with unpopular positions and tainted by the perception that it coddled criminals and deadbeats. It was only when the Democratic Leadership Council assiduously reinvented the party, with Bill Clinton as its standard-bearer, that it emerged from the political wilderness. And it emerged with ideas, such as a new fiscal responsibility, that gave it gravitas.

At the moment, Republicans are still at war with ideas — at least those that grow from a rational grasp of facts. There is no way, for example, to cut the deficit without raising taxes, but GOP congressional leaders insist on a voodoo math that defies that. They are obsessed with their belief that Obama has “covered up” his responsibility in the deaths of four Americans at a diplomatic post in Benghazi, though countless hearings have found no evidence of any such cover-up. They insist that Obamacare will kill jobs, though they present no evidence.

In a larger sense, the GOP is at war with reality — a reality of fewer white voters, myriad family structures and challenges that demand scientific solutions. Until it makes peace with reality, it cannot recreate itself as a winning party.

(Cynthia Tucker, winner of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, is a visiting professor at the University of Georgia. She can be reached at cynthia@cynthiatucker.com.)

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite