Note: In response to our recent open letter to the conservative movement, we continue “The Conservative Leadership Project” here at CR, a series of articles that will first look to answer why we lose, and then come up with a plan for us to win.

When challenged by skeptics that Christianity would be kicked to the curb by more enlightened 20th century audiences because it lacked the answers they were looking for, the great G.K. Chesterton responded with this quip:

“Christianity has not been tried and found wanting. Rather, it has been found difficult and rarely tried.”

The same could be said of principled conservatism.

Not since 1988 have the Republicans nominated for a president a candidate who was willing to clearly define his opponent as a Leftist out of the mainstream, while at the same time, define himself as a conservative in the mainstream. Since then, the GOP has nominated small “p” progressives/corporatists, whose only argument with Democrats on the domestic front seems to be which side’s special interests will get our money. It’s no coincidence Republicans have lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections during that time.

Their position in favor of child dismemberment is indefensible, except the guys representing our side rarely make them defend it. In this case, Paul finally did, and took a wedge issue the Left has used to club our candidates with for years and beat them with their own club instead.

Lacking a standard-bearer willing to use the national platform of a presidential campaign to defend and advance our principles, conservatives have lost considerable policy ground as well. Despite the fact the country agrees with us on numerous issues, very little has been done legislatively to advance a principled and doable conservative agenda. For example, take a look at the life issue. A February Gallup poll found the lowest support ever for killing preborn children on-demand. Yet, earlier this year the Republican-dominated House of Representatives was unable to pass even watered-down pro-life legislation.

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