One by one, the organs of conservative journalism and activism and the leaders of Republican officialdom have begun placing themselves in Romney’s orbit. If they will not stand up to him now, how will they do so later? And how can we convince dispirited activists that their concerns will still be represented in Romney’s Washington?

The answer, if we end up resigned to Romney, is that they will look to you. For now, we can still sell a message to the grassroots: elect more conservatives to the House and Senate, and they will keep Romney honest – with conservatives like Jim DeMint as their leaders. The goal of doing so will help us all: it will keep not-Romney activists motivated to vote and organize and donate at the House and Senate level, most of whom will then hold their breath and vote Romney as well, knowing they have done their part to provide a meaningful counterweight.

But the more those activists see interviews in which you seem to be feeding the pro-Romney inevitability narrative – much less actually endorsing the man – the more they will conclude that you are ready to play Tom DeLay to Romney’s Bush, and that the lessons of 2006-10 will be completely forgotten in the new Washington. That would be a terrible shame, and poisonous to our ability to keep alive an independent movement that stands for something besides Mitt Romney’s political advancement. Don’t surrender your independent credibility when it will be needed most. We are ready to continue the good fight, but we can’t do it without leaders.