JACKI LYDEN, HOST:
After this year's election, there are those in the Republican Party who've been doing more than a little soul-searching to figure out what their party needs to do to play a more constructive role in American politics.
Former George W. Bush adviser Mark McKinnon on Monday wrote in The Daily Beast that all he wants for Christmas is a new GOP.
MARK MCKINNON: Well, I think I was expressing the thoughts of a lot of Republicans that I talked to all the time - most of them outside of Washington - who look at the Republican Party and just say, this is not the Republican Party that I grew up with. This is not the Republican Party that I know. It doesn't make any sense to me. Seems to become a fringe party. This content simply to throw sand in the engine of government and grant things to a halt rather than put forward proposals or ideas or ideology that creates a pathway to any sort of future.
LYDEN: If you could prescribe - if you could get people to do some of the things that you would like to see your new GOP after Christmas, where do you think the party needs to go specifically?
MCKINNON: Just a couple of examples that I think are - seems so obvious to me - immigration is one. And I thought that losing the election would actually force the Republican Party at the table on immigration, and yet it appears that more and more people are going back to this notion that we should, you know, just have higher fences and more border security. And I'm afraid that they want to take an incremental approach, which means that it won't happen anytime soon.
Gay marriage and gay rights, I think, is another one. You know, Republicans should have a consistent philosophy. And if your philosophy is about limited government and not intruding in people's lives, you shouldn't just inconveniently take a social issue like gay marriage and say, well, unless we think - actually we should be intruding your life. We should be dictating what goes on with (unintelligible).
LYDEN: I want to ask you a little bit about gun control. Polls are mixed, but gradually showing that more people would favor new legislation on gun control. Do you think that there'll be Republican support for that?
MCKINNON: The reality is that maybe no one prescription is going to do anything or say any one thing would have changed the outcome of what happened in Connecticut. But it is a time when there's a national consciousness that says, you know, we, as a society, have to step forward and do something. And I think Republicans have to do something. Now, that can just be a three-point plan where you can say, we're going to have stronger enforcement of background checks.
I mean, right now, we only checked 40 percent of people who buy guns. That should be 100 percent. That should be a Republican position. What's wrong with that? You can limit the number of the clips and the guns. There are just a couple little things like this that just make absolute common sense, and it would look like Republicans are then at least coming to the table, recognizing a reality and being more progressive in their views about what's happening in our culture today.
LYDEN: There have been a number of people looking at what went wrong in the last election - the GOP, Growth and Opportunity Project, for example, other party leaders calling for change. What do you think that threshold for change would look like?
MCKINNON: Well, the threshold for change always comes from new leadership. You know, the parties had a power. Their problem is that you have power centers all over the place, and that's why we're having problems right now getting Republican Party to have a consensus view on the fiscal cliff. There's no dominant leadership, and there's a struggle within the party for which way the party's going to go. And that's not really going to figure itself out.
And until we have a nominee for the next presidential election and somebody steps forward and kind of leads the way, my hope is that as a result of this election, having lost now two elections, that, you know, if we spend enough time in a desert, we'll finally figure out where the water is and start getting smart about what we need to do.
LYDEN: Mark McKinnon was an adviser to President George W. Bush, and he's the co-founder of the group No Labels. Mark, thank you very, very much for speaking with us.
MCKINNON: Hey, kick it hard and carry on regardless.
LYDEN: And happy New Year to you.
MCKINNON: Thanks. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.