Steve M knows how: run a nominee who actually wants to run the country for all the citizens, not someone who “terrifies and infuriates” Democrats.
…what is it with Republicans and their obsessive quest for the ultimate Dem-destroying nominee? Dave Weigel alluded to this during the 2012 primaries, back when Newt Gingrich was temporarily riding high:
When he talks to Republicans, especially to Republican voters who may not be inclined to back him, Newt Gingrich wins them over with a promise. He will outsmart Barack Obama. He will challenge him to “seven Lincoln-Douglas-style debates,” as he said last week at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s confab. The president can even “use a teleprompter,” jokes Gingrich. It’s one of the tightest punchlines in conservative politics.
… [Republicans have] started to imagine him facing off against Barack Obama, the president they consider a pure media creation who can’t put two words together unless they’re in blue type on a screen in front of him….
Then again, before that, the same voters felt that way about Herman Cain. And, before that, about Donald Trump and Sarah Palin. And many of them hope that Trump or Ben Carson or Allen West or Cruz will be the nominee, just because they talk a lot of trash about Democrats and liberals.
Now, granted, the people who embody these wingnut hopes haven’t actually won the Republican nomination. But they drive the eventual winner very, very far to the right, and quite possibly (in 2008 and 2012) to defeat.
Democrats don’t do any of this. Even Democrats who hope a progressive champion will fight for the nomination primarily want someone who’ll embody progressive values, not bash our enemies. If we wanted an enemy-basher, there’d be an Alan Grayson for president movement as large as the Cruz cult.
The basic difference between the two parties is that Republicans do not want to govern, they want to rule. They see power as their God-given right, and anyone who is not one of them as illegitimate and a usurper. And even when they have a president who makes a feint in the direction of outreach to the other side or minorities, such as George W. Bush did when he talked about immigration reform, they either suspect him of going soft or they try to capitalize on it with ham-handed results (see below).
This is not to say that the Republicans couldn’t win in 2016. They could if they found someone who can pull off the balancing act of sounding reasonable enough to the soft gooey center without fracturing the easily-crazed outer layer. But it’s like trying to eat the stuffing out of an Oreo without breaking the chocolate layers. So far, the candidates that have emerged would use a sledgehammer.