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Yet, the very same thing happened during the 1930s. The New Deal failed to end the Great Depression. The policy of appeasement embraced by Franklin Roosevelt emboldened Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan - paving the way to World War II.

This dismal record didn’t prevent Roosevelt from winning three successive re-election victories. Mr. Obama and the congressional Democrats may remain in power despite a tanking economy and defeat in the Middle East. There are no guarantees in politics.

Even if Republicans do manage to come back in 2010 or 2012, riding a wave of voter disgust at Democratic incompetence, it won’t solve the underlying problem: The demographics and trends are against conservatives.

To win, the GOP will be forced to become more like Democrats; George W. Bush’s call for a “compassionate conservatism,” with its stress on major spending on education, prescription-drug coverage for seniors and amnesty for illegals was an example of the erosion of the Republican identity.

This is why, if the right truly seeks to capture national power, it must abandon its politics-only strategy. That is a road to defeat, decline and eventually, oblivion. It must engage the left on the cultural front, and seek to take back key institutions conservatives have surrendered - often without a fight. Liberals have been on offense for too long, setting the terms of debate. Conservatives must stop playing defense. They must be proactive, bold and courageous in crafting a long-term revolution.

Conservatives didn’t lose overnight. And they won’t win overnight. The path to power lies not in Washington, but in New York and Los Angeles - and everywhere in between. It’s the culture, stupid.

Jeffrey T. Kuhner is a columnist at The Washington Times and president of the Edmund Burke Institute, a Washington policy institute.