My colleague Arthur Brooks from the American Enterprise Institute makes the crucial point that you win in politics by fighting for people, not fighting for things or abstractions.
In the wreckage left behind by the government shutdown, Republicans need to embrace this lesson and convince America that they aren't just against big government, but they're for the well-being of ordinary people. In many areas, that well-being demands a smaller government; at other times, it requires a reformed, more effective government.
But the ultimate goal must remain in focus: we want to make America stronger, not weaker, and we intend to help people, not hinder their progress. During the shutdown fiasco, the public witnessed discomfort and disruption for many of their fellow citizens with no apparent gain for the nation at large.
That's a formula for failure, inevitably.