With the Democratic party in control of the presidency, the Congress and many state houses across the country, the Republican party finds itself out of power and searching for an identity and new leadership.
In the 1960s, Barry Goldwater redefined conservatism and attracted a new generation to the party's banner. In the 1980s, the values of Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan -- a small federal government and a strong national defense -- defined the party. A decade later, Republicans issued the "Contract for America" and rallied behind a series of strong Congressional leaders.
Over the last eight years, George W. Bush led his party and rallied the faithful behind his social policies, the "war on terror" and low taxes.
Having lost two consecutive elections by large margins, the Republican party is at a crucial juncture. As David Brooks writes, "lines are being drawn by 'Traditionalists' and 'Reformers' in the fight over the future of conservatism."
Will the party return to Reagan or will a new leader and a new direction emerge?
Ramesh Ponnuru is a Washington D.C. based columnist and a senior editor for National Review.
He has been a fellow at the Institute of Economic Affairs in London and a media fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution. He is the author of Party of Death.
Reihan Salam is an associate editor at The Atlantic Monthly and a fellow at the New America Foundation. A graduate of Harvard, Salam has previously served as a producer for NBC News, junior editor of The New York Times, and a reporter-researcher at The New Republic.
He recently co-authored the book Grand New Party: How Conservatives Can Win the Working Class and Save the American Dream, with Ross Douthat, and is a regular contributor to The Weekly Standard, Slate and 'The American Scene' blog.
Ramesh Ponnuru, a senior editor for National Review, says history has taught the GOP "to move right" after facing defeat. He argues "the path of the conservative principle" will not lead Republicans back into power this time around.