Here’s a terrifying idea for Republican politicians, pollsters, pundits and voters to think about: The 2012 presidential election was effectively over as quickly as it began because the Republican consulting class’ reasoning — and, thereby, entire strategy — was based on denying that 2008 ever happened.

Meanwhile, in the real world, the ethnic makeup of this land is changing, and will continue to change, just as it has since before the United States was founded. Simply put, Spanish-language ads and Facebook updates are helpful, but Republicans have a choice to either make a genuine, long-term, and concerted effort to reach out to minority voters, or to follow the consultants’ lead and find shelter in demographic delusions.

Which pill the GOP will swallow likely depends on who is put in charge of explaining to the donors and politicians the cold blast of reality on Nov. 6, 2012. If it is the folks who rely on data, the GOP may have a future in this country. But if the same folks who ran the 2012 campaigns are in charge of explaining what went wrong — as they would surely like to be — the GOP’s flag is headed for the ash heap of history, and conservatives and libertarians will have to find another banner.