"If a political party decides what ideas it supports based on what's likely to get it elected, that rises some questions about what its purpose is in the first place."
True, but this is what the republicans do (and democrats, but that is not this discussion). Look at the issue of abortion, government spending, jobs......do you think they really care about any of these? No. They are pushing an agenda of lowering the taxes for the wealthy, concentrating the wealth among the most wealthy. How people still vote for it is beyond me. They claim to be fighting for whatever gets the votes.....they may even name the bill after that cause. In the end, the content of their agenda is often counter to what they claimed. Not sure why voters do not seem bothered by this and vote elsewhere. Ron Pauls supporters seem to understand this, which is why NONE of them will vote for Romney. All of Pauls votes are going to Obama, or going unused.