At a time when the American misadventure in Vietnam was going from bad to worse, American eyes once turned with admiration to a hard-charging, damn-the-torpedoes, full-speed-ahead war captain named Moshe Dayan.  With his big, black eye-patch and his fearlessness in the face of the enemy, Dayan seemed like something out of another era.  He had been fighting for his people’s freedom since he was fourteen years old, and in the 38 years since then, he had never lost.  The pinnacle of his career came in the spring of 1967, when he oversaw a rapid series of unprecedented victories on every imaginable battlefield.  Seeing him subdue an axis of enemies aiming for his army’s destruction, more than a few Americans looked with envy on Israel’s Minister of Defense and his conduct in the Six Days War, and they said to themselves, “I wish he were ours.”

Most of Moshe Dayan’s American admirers were hardly members of AIPAC.  Many of them had never met an Israeli.  More than a few of them had probably never even met a Jew.  But in an era when American flags were on fire, protests were sweeping college campuses, and Lyndon Johnson’s military strategy – or lack of strategy – was flailing and failing in Vietnam, it’s no wonder that so many Americans thought that what our country really needed was a fighting one-eyed general of our own, just like Moshe Dayan. 

​As the first of many Republican presidential candidates begin to ​officially kick off their ​campaigns​, it is worth once again looking at Israel for a model to emulate.

In many ways, the Republican Party is stuck in a political quagmire as daunting as the military quagmire America was stuck in in 1967.  We have been trying half-measures for far too long. We have been picking the wrong leaders for far too long. We have been losing for far too long. 

Let’s review.  In the past forty years, when we have nominated a candidate clearly and unapologetically more conservative than his closest competitor, Republicans have won the presidency.  Ronald Reagan was clearly more conservative than his closest competitor in 1980 (George H.W. Bush), and he won – not just one, but two terms.  Then, two decades later, George W. Bush was clearly more conservative than his closest competitor (John McCainJohn Sidney McCainGOP strategist donates to Alabama Democrat Meghan McCain knocks Bannon: 'Who the hell are you' to criticize Romney? Dems demand Tillerson end State hiring freeze, consult with Congress MORE), and he won – again, not just one, but two terms.  In short, conservatives 4; liberals 0.

But in four of the other five presidential elections – Ford in 1976; Bush in 1992; Dole in 1996; McCain in 2008; Romney in 2012 – we have nominated a moderate, and we have lost.  (The only exception was 1988, when Bush looked like the heir to the Reagan Revolution.  Four years later, when we realized he wasn’t, he lost.)  In short, moderates 1; liberals 5.

The history is clear.  Conservatives win.  Moderates lose.  Which brings us back to Israel.  For the past several years, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had tried quite hard to convince Israelis that he was a moderate, and for the past month or so, every poll was predicting that Benjamin Netanyahu was going to lose.  Then, like Moshe Dayan’s army charging up the Golan Heights, Netanyahu embraced his inner conservative – his inner Tea Party – in the final days of the campaign.

On the Saturday evening before the election, Netanyahu delivered a key speech embracing his faith and endorsing the construction of new apartments in Israel, including in the West Bank.  Then, on the eve of the election, he guaranteed his people that there would be no Palestinian state if Israel re-elected him.  That’s not to say that a two-state solution wouldn’t be peachy – if Israel’s security could be protected.  But with Hamas holding so much power among the Palestinians, a two-state solution simply isn’t possible in the near term.

To be sure, Netanyahu’s campaign wasn’t perfect.  It took him far too long to shed his attempt to hide his conservatism.  (Also, in the final days of the race, he made an unfortunate reference to Arab turnout, for which he has since apologized.)  But when the election results finally came in, Israel’s liberal elites were stunned – as liberal elites always are when conservatives campaign as conservatives … and antagonize the left-wing media … and win landslide victories.   And whether the next Republican ticket includes Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzDebbie Wasserman Schultz marks 10 years as breast cancer survivor Foreign agent registration is no magical shield against Russian propaganda Let Trump be Trump and he'll sail through 2020 MORE (Texas) or Gov. Scott Walker (Wis.) or Jeb Bush or Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioRyan pledges 'entitlement reform' in 2018 Richard Gere welcomes lawmakers' words of support for Tibet Dem lawmaker gives McConnell's tax reform op-ed a failing grade MORE (Fla.) or Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulLexington mayor launches bid for Congress Trump-free Kennedy Center Honors avoids politics Meet the Iran hawk who could be Trump's next secretary of State MORE (Ky.) or anyone else, if they campaign as conservatives, they will not just win an election – they will win a mandate.

Innis is national spokesperson for the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and executive director of TheTeaParty.net.