There's one sure way for Republicans and conservatives to lose the 2012 presidential election - split over who their presidential nominee will be, and fail to go all-out to support the winner.
People keep asking me, "What would your father, Ronald Reagan, do?" The answer is easy. No matter who the nominee is, he or she would get his support. After all, his famous "11th Commandment" demanded that Republicans support their party's nominee, no matter who he or she might be.
He certainly would have supported John McCain in 2008. Tragically, if the party of Ronald Reagan had followed what would have been his lead, John McCain - not Barack Obama - would the president of these United States today. If Obama is not to be re-elected in 2012, Republicans need to get their act together, decide on a nominee, and back him or her to the hilt.
Let's look at some flaws of the current frontrunners. Both Romney and Perry, like the rest of us, have their share of flaws - Perry for having signed an executive order to inoculate 12-year-old girls against HPV, and signing a bill to provide in-state tuition to illegal aliens.
As for Mitt Romney, his membership in the Mormon church has earned the hostility of some Christians, and his institution of so-called Romneycare when he was governor of Massachusetts has been questioned by many conservatives.
As things stand now, either Perry or Romney will be the 2012 Republican presidential nominee. Republicans will be obliged to support the winner if we can hope to win the presidential election, no matter the flaws.
It's important to recall that Ronald Reagan outraged some Republicans when as California's governor he raised taxes and signed an abortion bill and became the first California governor to sign a no-fault divorce law Despite all this, he still went on to become the greatest U.S. president of our lifetime.
If he were alive today and we were to nominate him in 2012, I wonder which wing of the GOP his opponents would come from.
Regardless of the outcome of such a confrontation, Republicans will have to either hang together or hang alone.
Should either Romney or Perry win the GOP presidential nomination, we are either going to support the winner in the November election or watch Barack Obama win a second term. Republicans simply can't afford to be bystanders in 2012.
Put it this way: Who do you hope will be the president when 2013 dawns: Barack Obama or a Republican? The answer is clear, whether our nominee is Romney or Perry or even someone else, such as Michele Bachmann.
• Michael Reagan is the son of President Ronald Reagan, a political consultant, and the author of "The New Reagan Revolution" (St. Martin's Press, 2011). He is the founder and chairman of The Reagan Group and president of The Reagan Legacy Foundation. Visit his website at www.reagan.com, or email comments to Reagan@caglecartoons.com.