Moderates? Republicans?, by Andrew Samwick: The way Ezra Klein tells it is largely the way I remember it, too. Antecedents of President Obama's policies -- an individual mandate in health insurance, cap-and-trade on emissions, and some willingness to raise taxes to close deficits -- can be found in Republican policies of the George H.W. Bush era. I supported them then and support them now, though in a way that comes from the right side of the political spectrum rather than the left. ...
I don't find Obama's policies to be beyond compromise. Transported to a different era, Obama would have been a Rockefeller Republican -- actively using the government's powers to try to solve public policy problems and willing to go to the voters to get more revenues to do so.
The place where I disagree with Ezra's reasoning is here:
The normal reason a party abandons its policy ideas is that those ideas fail in practice. But that’s not the case here. ...
Rather, it appears that as Democrats moved to the right to pick up Republican votes, Republicans moved to the right to oppose Democratic proposals.
...The first move to the right wasn't by the Democrats. It was by the Republicans on issues of tax policy. More recently, this dynamic has been at work -- on issues not related to tax policy, the Republicans are moving to the right to oppose proposals that were previously part of their platform.
What's left unexplained is why movements to the right by both parties -- and these aren't marginal moves -- haven't alienated the middle of the road, swing voters that seem to make a difference in elections. I don't think I have a good answer for why. In the present case, there is some voter remorse -- Obama is far more conservative than many thought -- but I don't think that explains the larger trend.