Jim DeMint is a Conservative Hero
While some simply see Jim DeMint as one of the most right-wing members of the U.S. Senate and a Republican leader of the conservative movement, I believe DeMint could be leading the GOP and the movement on the path to redemption.
American conservatism has taken a wrong turn. It is true we have elected plenty of Republicans who call themselves conservatives, and we have plenty of organizations that fly the conservative flag. We even have conservative radio and TV stations that broadcast to millions. But what we don’t have is anything remotely resembling the type of constitutionally limited government the Founders intended, Barry Goldwater championed, and Ronald Reagan promised. The last Republican “revolution” we had was in 1994 when the GOP took back the House, outraged over a $4 trillion national debt. Today, that number is $16 trillion and climbing. Epic fail.
The original Tea Party movement rose in 2009 and 2010 primarily to protest government spending and debt. Sen. DeMint quickly became a Tea Party darling precisely because he was the rare Republican who actually voted against entitlement expansions like Medicare Plan D when the rest of the GOP marched in lockstep with President George W. Bush. Even when Karl Rove threatened DeMint over the Medicare expansion by implying a primary challenge, the senator refused to back down. He said he’d rather lose the next election than his principles. DeMint further showed off his true-blue conservative credentials by bucking the GOP establishment in 2010 by backing anti-establishment candidates — like Rand Paul and Mike Lee.
This is not to say that DeMint is perfect. But it is to say that he recognizes where the Republican Party and the conservative movement has been impotent. It is to say that the senator has been willing to address and help correct the many contradictions within the GOP that have gone against conservative principles and prevented a true conservative movement from taking hold in Washington.
Not only has DeMint been willing to tackle potentially toxic subjects like entitlement reform, he’s not afraid to rebuke the neoconservative mantra of more war and military spending that dominated the GOP during the Bush era. As DeMint told Reasonmagazine in December 2011, “We need to make sure that we have the technology, the intelligence, the equipment to defend America from a lot of new threats. And if that is not doable with bases all over the world, we need to rethink how spread out we actually are. We do need to rethink the money we spend on military and defense … There’s a difference between spending on military and spending for defense.” DeMint has advocated for Pentagon spending reductions and has been in the minority in voting for Republican budgets that make those cuts.
DeMint has also welcomed libertarians into the GOP fold. In fact, the South Carolina senator believes that libertarian ideals are an integral component to serious conservatism. “I’d like to see a Republican Party that embraces a lot of the libertarian ideas,” DeMint said last January, adding that if the GOP didn’t embrace these ideas, “We won’t be able to exist as a party, certainly not a majority party.”