Easily the most frustrating thing about the last 35 years for me is that I’ve been telling anyone who would listen that if the Republican Party insists on having the worst marketing department in the history of marketing, it won’t be long until their brand, and the party, are destroyed.

I’ve sat, at length, with Reince Priebus, Newt Gingrich, Jim Sensenbrenner, Todd Herman, Kirby Wilbur, and other prominent Republican leaders and offered my assistance. For various reasons, none of them took me seriously. None of them wanted the help.

In conservatism, the Republican Party has been sitting on the greatest product in the history of humanity. It’s our natural state. It’s based on honesty, freedom, liberty, altruism, charity, hard work, responsibility, accountability, and happiness.

Conservatism doesn’t just deserve, it requires, a full-throated, confident, loud, and constant articulation and defense of what it is and why it is.

The Republican Party couldn’t be bothered. They sat by and never promoted it. They never advocated for it. They never defended it. They never explained it. The never described it. And, as we know, nature abhors a void.

The Democrats were more than happy to fill the void. They were chomping at the bit.

Since I’ve been following politics, Democrats have been aggressively branding the Republican Party. In fact, they spend more time defining the Republican brand than they do the Democrat brand.

They’ve spent decades defining the Republicans as racist white supremacists, despite the Republican’s rich history of being on the right side of race relations, institutional racism, segregation, and slavery. In 1992, I learned that the Ku Klux Klan was created to be the militant wing of the Democrat Party. I don’t think it was until 2017 that I heard a prominent conservative say it out loud. That includes Rush Limbaugh.

What the Republicans didn’t see coming, despite my warnings, is that the racist and white supremacist labels were a strategy. The plan has always been to dehumanize Republicans by making them so vile and despicable that people could justify canceling them from society.

It also served to separate conservatives from the Republican Party. Establishment Republicans have no idea how many self-identified Democrats out there are actually conservatives. They just think they’re Democrats because they figure, “well, I’m not a racist. I don’t hate gay people. I support women getting equal pay. So I must be a Democrat.”

But then when you talk to these people and strip everything of the labels, you realize they live their lives as a conservative. They believe in law and order, consequences, accountability, and responsibility. They believe in America and just want to live their lives.

As I wrote in December, Democrats aren’t inhibited. They’re not afraid to be assholes, so they put themselves out there. They control the message. As a result, when the characterize Republicans as evil, and there’s no counter message, people accept it. Especially when they don’t spend their entire day following and researching politics.

Most of America doesn’t pay close attention to politics. More often than note, they’re passively taking in their political messaging. Democrats say they’re for the little guy and protecting the country from the racism of the Republicans? Ok. That person isn’t going to do their research to realize the Democrat Party has been the home of racism and slavery – to this day.

Republicans are either too timid to defend their positions or they take it for granted the people know and think what they do. So they sit quiet. The Democrats are all too happy to do that work for Republicans.

Imagine what this country would be like right now if the Republican Party had been aggressively and proactively defining the conservative brand and contrasting themselves with the reality of who Democrats really are.

Our education system wouldn’t have given itself to the Democrat ideology. The culture wouldn’t have adopted the Democrat message. The difference between the parties wouldn’t be the one that supports America versus the one that doesn’t. It would have been simply two competing views on how to make it an awesome country.

Donald Trump was hardly the guy any conservative wanted as the spokesperson for the party. He doesn’t truly understand the ideology. He makes too much about himself. He needlessly exaggerates. He picks unnecessary fights. And too often, he’s all talk with no action.

Yet, he’s easily the most important and consequential Republican that’s come along in the past 30 years, if not our lifetimes. Why?

Donald Trump unapologetically stood up for conservatism and middle America in a way conservatives have been begging for for decades. Donald Trump wasn’t afraid. Donald Trump was an asshole. Donald Trump knew he had truth and righteousness on his side. And because he’s literally the only person to come along and do this, the lines were blurred between those who supported him and those who supported conservatism.

For the past four years, conservatives have straddled the line between the cause and the cult of personality. We’ve gotten dangerously close to defending the man to the point that we overlook the fact that he’s human and has made some mistakes.

Worse, I fear that once he goes away, many of his supporters will go away with him. But it’s bigger than him. It’s his cause that we support. Yes, we support and appreciate the hell out of his relentless defense of conservative policies. But it’s the conservative policies that made him possible.

People love Trump because he fights for things they believe. Not the other way around. That’s why we can’t lose sight of those beliefs after he’s gone.

So, what next? I’ll tell you tomorrow…