“I adhere to conservative principles so I can’t take this step” is an understandable reaction to my suggestion. But I’d say it’s not really a conservative reaction. A conservative considers the real-world consequences of her principles. A conservative considers how adherence to—or deviation from—certain principles would help or hurt the goals conservatism seeks to achieve. Because it is these goals—liberty, justice, good government, democracy, stability, and so on—that matter. Not the “-ism.” Conservatism is a means to those goals, not an end in itself.
Or to put it otherwise: When Margaret Thatcher commented that “the facts of life are conservative,” she wasn’t adding “the facts of life” to a list of arguments for conservatism. She was saying she was conservative because the facts of life are what they are.
And one of those facts of life is that a dangerous, anti-democratic faction—which pretty clearly constitutes a majority—of the nation’s conservative party is not committed in any serious way to the truth, the rule of law, or the basic foundations of our liberal democracy.