CANTOR ON GOP’S ‘RELEVANCE’…. Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia is poised to become the House Minority Whip, the second-highest rank in the chamber for the GOP, and as part of his new leadership position, Cantor has a vision for the party’s future.

[Cantor] said the Republican Party in Washington is no longer “relevant” to voters and must stop simply espousing principles. Instead, it must craft real solutions to health care and the economy.

“Where we have really fallen down is, we have lacked the ability to be relevant to people’s lives. Let’s set aside the last eight years, and our falling down in living up to expectations of what we said we were going to do,” Mr. Cantor told The Washington Times in his district office outside of Richmond. “It’s the relevancy question.” […]

“It’s the roads, it’s going to the gas station, that’s still there when the price will bump back up. It’s education, it’s health care. These are the issues, frankly, that we have not been on offense with,” he said.

Cantor added that the nation is “desperate” for Republicans to use conservative principles to “fashion solutions to everyday challenges.”

All of this sounds very nice. Cantor is presenting a practical approach to the party’s political problem — he’s suggesting Republicans try to address policy challenges through conservative policy ideas. Why didn’t someone think of that sooner?

Here’s the rub: none of this is new. Republicans were plenty “relevant” from 2001 to 2006, when they ran the show and did pretty much whatever they wanted.

And why weren’t the Republicans “on offense” when it comes to education, health care, the economy, and issues “relevant to people’s lives”? Because their ideas are really awful. They’re so terrible, in fact, that Republicans have been reluctant to even present them earnestly, for fear of scaring voters away.

Privatizing public schools through vouchers, “reforming” health care by operating under the assumption that Americans have too much insurance already, “fixing” the economy by removing safeguards and regulations — these are the Republican ideas to “everyday challenges.”

Cantor makes it seem as if Republican policymakers have simply been asleep at the switch for the past several years, unaware of what “governing” means. This is silly. If Bush and congressional Republicans wanted to go on “offense” on domestic policy issues, they had a chance. They balked because they knew no one likes their ideas.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.