I have made this point before, way back in 2006, but it bears repeating now.
The Left has an incremental strategy of making their gains slowly and steadily, and they have been very successful. Conservatives have an incremental strategy of having the Left make their gains more slowly than they wanted and less steadily than they desired, and in this (inadequate) strategy, we have been more or less successful. Nevertheless, over time, the size and influence of statism has steadily increased.
There are many reasons for this, but here is one of the tactical reasons. The Left disciplines their party in terms of their hardliners, and conservatives discipline their hardliners in terms of the party. This is the reason their incrementalism affects the direction we go, and our incrementalism only affects the speed at which we go in their direction.
Now that Romney appears to have the nomination, we can divide the non-Romney fans into two categories — those who will reluctantly work for him, and will vote for him, and those (like me) who will not. If we were all on the Left, the guys within the system would use those sitting it out as a way of keeping Romney honest. They would use it as a pressure point. As we are conservatives, though, the system men tend to use the mere fact of Romney’s position as a cudgel on those who have had Lucy pull the football away from them one too many times.
Those true conservatives who are operating within the system need to learn that the dispossessed care about direction more than speed, and they need to learn how to honor that distinction. And the dispossessed need to learn that the speed at which we are barreling toward the cliff is not exactly a trifle. Going over the cliff will result in a change of direction also, but not the kind we were hoping for.
And, as I have said before, there will be more on this, I am sure.