I believe we have a great big BINGO!
We will never sell conservatism (or the GOP) to the electorate if we cannot define it. Even if we were not directly responsible, we have to point out where the “right” went wrong and exactly what we need to do to rectify the situation.
This is a tough problem. Let us take a very devisive one on to start. What is the conservative position on the war on drugs? The moralistic right who want to use law to enforce social norms think it is just fine. Those who worry about a police state, growth of government, the cost, social consequences and morality of keeping large numbers of folks locked up in a for profit prison system (privatization gone amock), the effect on our constitution, etc., think we have gone mad.
Turns out we actually had Sadam pretty well bottled up long before the invasion, but the neocons (neoimperialists) wanted Iraq. A good conservative supports the defense of the country, etc. but expending blood and treasure to create chaos in a place foresaken by our saviour when sorting it all out is beyond our wisdon - is that the conservative position?
What is our position on the WOT? We have a director of homeland security who has run so amok that he has declared England the next enemy. My view is that terrorism is best fought by the DoD and a well organized foreign intelligence service, to the extent we have one. Otherwise, don't keep the names of suspected terrorists on a secret list. Post their names, faces and crimes on the internet. A well-informed citizenry will do the rest and we can let gandma's in walkers and 4 year old blond girls go about their business unmolested.
Why do you think Ron Paul is so popular? I am a sort of supporter in a way. It is not because I think that RP is going to get into the white house or even should be President. A few of his positions are a bit extreme. But, he serves a very useful function in reminding us how far the Republican party and the country has drifted from constitutional conservatism, the governing principles of our founding fathers.
In brief, defining the conservative philosphy is key. It was easy under Regan because new deal liberalism had degenerated into socialist/communistic sloganeering. All one needed was to establish a party based on things that we knew were true as opposed to a lot of things that just were not so.