Bob Dole once said, “Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon wouldn’t be welcome in today’s Republican Party because they all had ideas and positive agendas”
Not sure if this is entirely true. Today’s GOP certainly has ideas – and in their own view, a positive agenda.
The governing idea of the modern GOP is that government is bad in virtually all its aspects and should be shrunk and disabled, and that once this has been accomplished, more freedom and prosperity and (presumably) happiness will result.
In order to accomplish this they have adopted an insurgency strategy – destroy the government from within. So they get elected and then, once inside, muck everything up as much as possible (filibuster, disabling federal agencies, eroding tax revenues, etc.)
This approach may come off as negative but in fact it’s only tactically so – from an “idea” viewpoint, it’s positive.
A more precise appraisal would be that Nixon, Reagan, and Dole operated at a time when there was a broad consensus in both parties – dating to the 1940s – that government could, in various ways, be a positive force in society. In the last twenty years, the GOP has abandoned that belief in a wholesale way, and that’s why those former GOP stalwarts would no longer be accepted in the party, IMO.