This is Part 7 in a series.

The 2020 election didn’t have to be lost. We didn’t have to be asking questions about multiple appearances (at the very least) of impropriety, the failure to follow election laws and Constitutional provisions, or a host of other things. But we are at the point where Joe Biden is President and Kamala Harris is Vice President.

The fact of the matter is that some who were nominally “on our side” helped make 2020 a mess. They failed to pick the right people. There was no poor planning if there was any planning at all. They failed to “prepare the battlefield” so as to have favorable conditions, or worse, didn’t oppose the other side’s attempts. Likely ways the Left would attack were not anticipated, leading to ineffective (if any) counterattacks. There was no consideration for how the message being put out would be received, leading to needlessly driving people to Biden. Then, of course, there wasn’t an accurate assessment of where things stood, or worse, no effort to have such an assessment in favor of overly optimistic assumptions leading to desperate “Hail Mary” efforts.

Those who display a record of failure in multiple parts of these areas of discussion may lack the tactical and strategic competence to win the necessary elections to advance the effort to restore our government to within Constitutional boundaries. The fact of the matter is that knowing how things stand and knowing where we want to get to is not enough. We have to figure out how we get from our current state to the state we want the country to be in.

To do that requires a strategic plan that would create the conditions that enable our government’s restoration. Implementing that plan involves tactics. The decisions about the strategy and tactics will require a lot of thought and consideration, with plenty of advice from many corners. One important thing to understand and accept is that in any endeavor, whether starting a business, running for office, fighting a war, advocating for legislation, or even playing a pick-up game of basketball, one should remember one comment of military advice: “The enemy has a vote.”

You can bet, for instance, that those who benefited from the mass mailing of absentee ballot applications – or even the ballots themselves – to everyone on the voting rolls, no matter what shape those voting rolls are in, won’t freely give that up by any stretch of the imagination. It is very likely that in the short-term, any successful effort to win an election will have to account for vote-by-mail and include efforts to maximize that among those who support a return to constitutional norms while working with groups like True the VoteJudicial Watch, and the Thomas More Society’s Amistad Project to ensure risks to the integrity of the election are minimized.

Eliminating mail-in voting isn’t just going to be as easy as voting in the legislature and having a governor sign the bill (or overriding a veto). There will be extensive legal battles from people like Marc Elias and Stacy Abrams, who benefit from the current system. This will make it vital that those who draft the legislation be extremely competent and convince the courts to let the legislation stand as is.

On a similar basis, just as we seek to expand our coalition on Election Day, the other side is trying to do the same. Adaptability will also be needed to deal with their efforts and to counter them. One thing that will be necessary is for those who seek to lead either the conservative movement or Republican Party to punch back when needed. For too long, party loyalty has gone one way in the GOP – from the grassroots to the leaders, and that has to change.

It’s one thing for someone to make an effort with a good plan and to come up short, as Kelly Ward did in Arizona. The key is to learn from what went wrong and to adjust. Ideally, one learns and adjusts from seeing others’ failures, thus minimizing the chances of failure when the stakes are high. We’re not in an ideal world, and again, we should remember that the other side will be doing everything they can to win. Those don’t warrant punishment. However, when it comes to either refusing to make an effort or tactical and strategic incompetence, that is when the people who failed through their own fault will need to step aside or be moved aside.

In some cases, it will mean busting narratives. For too many on the right, Barry Goldwater is seen as a hero for boldly stating a conservative case. This needs to be re-thought. Goldwater’s campaign did launch Ronald Reagan’s political career, but his tactical and strategic failures led to a landslide loss that gave Lyndon Baines Johnson the “mandate” for the Great Society and set the stage for the long-term fiscal time bomb we have today in the form of unfunded future liabilities for Medicare. We instead, should look to those who successfully won elections, particularly in states where it would be harder for constitution-minded people to win. Scott Walker, for instance, deserves credit for his successful Wisconsin reforms – and for winning elections and beating back recalls despite massive abuses.

In other cases, a cold, hard look will be required to see if there are elected officials or those in party leadership positions who are holding back the expansion of a successful coalition to get the country on the right track. This could include a history of inflammatory comments that the other side can use to demonize us or to paint a false narrative, to say nothing of clear and convincing proof of misconduct or real racism, sexism, or other forms of disqualifying extremism. Steve King, the former Representative from Iowa, is one example of this.

This is not to say it’s wrong to ask certain questions, but the most effective way to raise those questions, especially when there is an appearance of impropriety, should be pursued. Many Americans will be more receptive to the approach of Dennis Prager than the approach we have seen from others.

This will be one of the hardest lessons from the 2020 election to turn into action and a good deal of that may not be from malice or negligence on the part of other people who share at least some, if not most or all of the same objectives. Instead, the difficulty will most like come because there will be good-faith disagreements about what the most effective strategy is at a given time, and the widely varying situation across this great country means that the tactics that work in rural Alabama may be less effective – or even counter-productive – when used in the suburbs of Philadelphia.

So, what can be done about this? On an individual level, individual voters could judge candidates based on what they have learned from this series of articles, explain these lessons to others, and encourage them to apply them as well. In addition, you can get involved with organizations at the precinct, county, and state levels that are seeking to restore America to constitutional practices. While there, suggest to the leaders that they carry out a thorough postmortem after each election, with a focus on strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

Leaders of organizations seeking to return America to constitutional practices at all levels should be running those reviews. It is equally important to have discussions, not just in the vertical hierarchy, but also with groups on the same level. They also should be in contact with candidates for office at all levels, ensuring they are carrying out a campaign with the lessons learned from 2020 in mind. Candidates themselves also should be taking these lessons into mind, in particular, and be willing to support leadership changes in organizations where these lessons are not applied.

It is also important to not take criticism personally but to try to use the articles in this series to explain why you are making your suggestions and be open to that outside perspective that may have seen something you missed. Given that reality, the most important thing to do when cleaning house is not to burn bridges unless there is no other alternative. Because as Trump learned the hard way – we may well need to at least have the non-opposition from certain factions in order to win.

To see more of this series find them here:

Part I    Part II    Part III    Part IV    Part V    Part VI

Harold Hutchison has nearly two decades of experience covering a variety of topics, including politics, national security affairs, foreign policy, Second Amendment issues, and sports. He has been published in numerous media outlets, including National Review, the Daily Caller, the Patriot Post, Ammoland.com, and the Washington Examiner.