Ron Bonjean has an interesting opinion piece in the New York Post on the political future — win or lose — of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R).

Bonjean smartly points out steps for Palin to take to set herself up for a future run for president. Readers may gloss over words that address the future of the GOP (again, win or lose) — "If the Republican Party in Washington is wiped out, it will have to grapple with how to change and deal with the losses."

Such advice is normal in post-election post-mortems. That these analyses are occurring before Election Day demonstrates the angst of many in the party.

After eight years in control of the White House and 12 years in control of the House of Representatives, the GOP may be left with little to show for it. The next generation of Republican Party leaders — whether that is Gov. Palin or not — must step into the vacuum armed and ready to make the party relevant.

In a sense, the Republican Party will need some version of the Council of Trent, the reform-minded 16th-century Ecumenical Council that defined beliefs and charted the future of the Roman Catholic Church. The party will have to come together and find ways to meet current challenges and adapt, while keeping true to conservative principles.

Given the political machinations that occur after every election, this will be a daunting task. But it is a necessary one if the party is to weather the current environment and put itself in a position for future success.