"Moderate" is, generally speaking, someone who realizes that you can have some of what you want, or none of what you want, but that you cannot have all of what you want and, accordingly, that you have to prioritize your goals, decide what the cost of compromise on each is, and stick to it. Reagan was a moderate, he was not a conservative, certainly not as the term "conservative" is now defined by those who have assumed the mantle.
Does that mean that all "moderates" are good people and good politicians? No, it doesn't. Moderates occupy a spectrum as well, and at the far end includes those who sit on-center and who, depending on circumstance and their local constituency, could be either republican or democrat. There are, in fact, a few democrats who are slightly to the right of a few republicans. Further, due to the nature of compromise, it is much easier for opportunists to exist as moderates while for the most part pursuing their own idiosyncratic agendas.
But that only states (a part of) the "problem" if you will. What's the "solution," particularly for those who sit farther out on the political spectrum? I would argue that the solution is constructive engagement with the moderates with the aim of realigning their prioritization of political goals, but that can only be accomplished if one is willing to (a) engage in one's own prioritization of goals, (b) offer in good faith the carrot of support, of willingness to vote for the moderate, and (c) in particular, to take it on faith that if the moderate is supported and wins that the moderate will in good faith push for at least some of the more important goals of the farther right, or else will explain why those goals must be compromised on, the degree to which they must be compromised on, and what is expected in return for that compromise.
And there is one other sine qua non for the continued relevance of the far right: getting over themselves, facing up to reality, and ceasing to waste so much political capital on issues and goals that will never, ever be accomplished. I'm sorry to break the news to you, but getting rid of abortion is utterly unreal; it will never, ever happen so you might as well start dealing with that fact. Given that, it is only rational that moderates will give short shrift to conservatives and right-wingers who continue to insist that anti-abortion be front and center in the GOP's political platform.
I would also add something else: rank and file conservatives, right-wingers love to come out at election time and make a hullaballoo about their various hot buttons and bete noir, and then disappear back into the woodwork not to be heard from again until the next election. That makes the threats from conservatives if their issues aren't addressed rather empty because the moderate who happens to be in office is entitled to think that his or her constituents agree with him or her if he doesn't hear from them at all. And "hearing" from them doesn't mean the occasional letter, it means getting together into organizations, putting out positinos, button-holing people on the street - in short all of the things that democrats/liberals have done for years (and which, I would add, many conservatives deride them for; derision may be fun, but it turns sour when those you deride end up getting the better of you).
Most of what I've seen, however, doesn't bear any resemblance to that. Mr. Cruz, for all his fireness, hasn't engaged constructively with GOP leadership and, in fact, from what I've read, has slapped away some of the proffers of engagement he's received. In the world of politics that is, to use my grandmother's felicitous term, cutting off one's nose to spite one's face.
As I'm quite sure you'll find all of that anathema, I'll just say so-be-it in advance; the most I can do is attempt to persuade.
I don't find what you say to be "anathema", in any respect. I just find it misses the point.
What you seem to define as "moderation" or the condition of being moderate is instead better defined as "realism". In order to succeed in any complex endeavor, it is necessary to prioritize your goals. As a practical matter it means being willing to compromise on strategy, tactics, and timetables, and knowing when and where to pick your battles.
The fact is, Progressives have done this extraordinarily well for many years. It does not make them any less radical.
And that is my point. A willingness to bargain and compromise is not wrong in and of itself. Far from it. Negotiation and strategizing are often necessary in order to achieve one's goals. But first, you must know what your goals are, and be certain that they reflect your principles so that the outcome proves desirable.
In our modern political context, Republican moderate leaders seem uninformed by any goal other than staying in office or else obtaining highly-remunerative positions owing to their perceived influence in government. If they believe in what the GOP platform claims to stand for - limited government, strong national defense, low taxes, free enterprise, secure borders, and a natural right to life - you certainly could not tell by most of their actions.
On the other side, the Left knows exactly what it wants - statism, specifically, collectivism generally, a centrally-managed economy, and obeisance to international law as superior to our own Constitution. They routinely do whatever is necessary to achieve these goals, and their actions in turn reflect their principles, so for example, the ubiquitous telling of untruths has become a common means of obtaining what they view as desirable ends.
When Progressives set out to destroy each and every one of the mediating institutions of Western civilization - families, communities, churches, fraternal memberships and associations, private charities among them - they understood precisely what they were doing. Removing the natural barriers between the individual and the State creates social disorder and dependency, a void into which the State and its proponents never miss an opportunity to intrude.
Many Republicans at the national level understand none of this. They are playing marbles while their enemies are playing three-dimensional chess. They think that the Left will be satiated by compromise, but they will not, ever. Because as long as they keep moving the needle ever leftward with each new battle, the Left knows they will win.
The Tea Party represents more than just a populist uprising against a corrupt power structure. It represents the beginning of a cultural awakening. People know there is something fundamentally wrong in America, but are frequently confused about what it is, or what to do about it. But "culture" is in fact, the answer. We need to change the culture, and that will take time - a great deal of time.
Along the way, compromise will be necessary - compromise on strategy and tactics and timetables. But first we need leaders who understand, and who can express and explain shared principles upon which they will never
compromise, principles such as those found in our Constitution: life, liberty, the right to property, and to free speech and self-defense. In this effort, we will require not just a conservative/libertarian political party, but our own news media, schools and social institutions to counter those now fully-owned by the Left.
And we will need one more thing, more important than any other: the courage of our convictions.
Because it's about to get rough out there.