Conservatives are currently looking at the short-term and wondering how in the world to stop Donald Trump. The reality is that it is simply too late to save this election, and conservatives cannot win with either outcome: Donald Trump as president or, more likely, Hillary Clinton as president. It leaves us with the one option that conservatives, frankly, have not been very good at – playing the long game.

Instead of thinking that we are six months away from the 2016 general election, conservatives need to start thinking that we are four years away from the 2020 election. Or eight years away from the 2024 election.

There is little chance that, with the Nebraska GOP’s rebuke of Ben Sasse (courtesy of Deb Fischer’s allies), the GOP is going to be a safe haven for conservatives for much longer. Many are publicly burning their voter registration and going independent. Many are staying in the GOP, but doing little to help the party they feel has betrayed them.

Conservatives have to realize two things:

  1. As Leon pointed out last week, conservatives have to learn to communicate, but I believe we are well beyond just needed to communicate better. More specifically, it’s become incredibly obvious they have to learn to negotiate – and, no, that word does not mean the same in this case that it does for the Washington GOP. Conservatives have to know, as Ronald Reagan knew, how to give a little to the opposition while at the same time forcing the opposition to give a little. We have lost that in a need for purity, and it is something we will have to regain if we want to win.
  2. The GOP is not their friend. It has never really been their friend, but it is pretty much over between Republicanism and Conservatism. It is time to cut the losses and roll out. A movement that is not our own has come in and done what conservatives could not in a much quicker amount of time. Whereas in 2010 and 2014 the conservative movement could count key victories, today the Trump movement has done a more effective job in mere months.

These two realizations reached, the conservative movement has to begin its work immediately. The reason we have to begin looking at 2020 or 2024 is that it is so difficult to get a new party ballot access in the states. Each state has its own rules and stipulations, almost all of which were written specifically to deter people from creating a new party.

It wouldn’t be enough to simply go and take over another party, either. The Libertarian and the Constitution Parties are very well entrenched in themselves and their own agendas. They cannot host the modern conservative movement because their agendas are so much narrower than what the modern conservative seeks.

Conservative activists need to start reaching out now, through conservative media and conservative connections, to build a network big enough to take on the state parties that exist now. Mass defections and fundraising, studying the law and finding good candidates who do more than preach the right thing. These are not optional – they are necessities. They have to happen in order for a new party to happen.

Look within the Republican Party for elected officials that have outwardly expressed discontent with the direction of their party. Find people who have a good head for politics, who can accurately and in a well-spoken way present the argument not just for your views, but for your party.

The Internet, can be a valuable tool in this. Even if activists work to create their own parties in their own state, there is nothing unifying them if they don’t communicate. An infrastructure of communication, and frequent updating of members, is hugely important, as well. If you can build the party infrastructure, and a communication network, then you can begin to build your platform.