She recalled talking to President George H.W. Bush after the 1992 election. Asked if he was worried about the future of the party, he answered in the negative. According to Perino, “He said, look, in 1992 after he lost, he said it took a while for the Republicans to get their footing. But then they did after, like, two or three years—and they come back in 1994 to win big time. The same thing happened in 2010, and it was a little bit shaky. Clinton wins again in '96, comes back, and then the Republicans come back; they have the White House for eight years.”
But this view is entirely political, not practical.
For conservatives—not to be confused with Republicans, as they are not always one in the same—this point could be moot. Any GOP comeback will likely be seen as too little, too late. After all, 2012 was a significant turning point in the direction of the country because of the Affordable Care Act.
And that’s what 2012 was all about. Republicans had to take the White House and the Senate in order to repeal Obamacare. Otherwise, so it went, the movement toward state-run, universal health care could not be reversed. The cost to the country, let alone the conservative cause, included more federal debt, more taxes, less religious freedom, diminished doctor-patient relationship, and fewer market forces.
Since the GOP failed on both counts—White House and Senate—the ACA is enshrined in law. In fact, notable Republicans have said as much, seemingly conceding the trajectory of health care policy. Conservatives also appear to have lost ground in other areas: a growing welfare state, tax policy, spending, and so on.
In other words, the eventual Republican return to power could be seen as meaningless to conservatives. Then again, as a political party, their interest is largely to regain power, anyway, not necessarily to affect the size and scope of the federal government. Perhaps conservatives should expect no less.