For decades now, conservatives have been betrayed by members of the establishment who have sold out our principles for winning elections. Now, that same incentive has seeped deeper into the party’s base: the thrill of “winning” is picking conservatives off, one by one, like dominoes. This is all thanks to everyone’s favorite GOP interloper, Donald Trump.

The right’s growing idolatry of Donald Trump has been reached through a process of accepting more and more of who he is until you’re standing behind him at a press conference with a blank look of despair and confusion on your face.  This epidemic has taken many of our own, including Ben Carson, a majority of the Fox News lineup, and Breitbart Inc., just to name a few groups.  It’s main symptoms include: equating Trump to Ronald Reagan in terms of his friends and enemies, sympathizing with his hatred of the establishment, and believing that he is the best chance we have to beat Hillary Clinton in November.

There are two main problems with the reasons behind idolizing Trump.

First, Trump’s main selling points–his focus on “winning,” the desire to stick it to the establishment, and the comparisons to Reagan–are NOT factors that should play into a conservative’s decision-making. Conservatives vote for principles. We do not vote for who looks the most like Reagan, or for whoever hates the establishment the most, or for who has the best chance of winning. These are terrible reasons to support someone. We should vote for whoever promotes liberty and has espoused (and actually stood for) philosophies that resemble our own.

The second reason is that these same selling points are blatantly false. Trump is not like Reagan. He hates the establishment, but he uses their playbook to win. Further, he is the weakest candidate when going up against Hillary! He only beats her in a handful of polls.

If Trump wins the nomination, he will continue to run under the guise of conservatism for the general election. At this point, it becomes a lose-lose situation for conservatives. If he wins, he will turn on us–of that I have no doubt. If he loses, he and his supporters will blame us for staying home and not helping him defeat Hillary.

Unfortunately, a vote for Trump is a vote against conservatism. It sullies ideals that fine people have spent decades cultivating and defending. My hope is that real conservatives will band together and continue to denounce Trump for the charlatan that he is. Stopping him is our greatest battle right now, one that will not be easily won.

If conservatives can beat Trump, we can save the republic. If we lose, conservatism will live on, but it may lose any effective influence that it once had on American politics.  Possibly, it will lose influence for good.