Friday, December 07, 2012

Is There a Downside to Jim DeMint Leaving?

I was somewhat relieved to see that someone felt the same way that I did about the announcement that conservative champion, Jim DeMint was leaving the Senate to take over leadership of the Heritage Foundation. For I'll openly admit that the key question for me wasn't "What's best for Senator DeMint?" or "What's best for the Heritage Foundation?" but rather "What's best for the country?"

Let me share Jim Geraghty's concerns as shared in his "Morning Jolt" e-mail sent out by National Review.

...And this is just about the best possible news for Heritage; who better to replace Feulner than an extremely prominent lawmaker, with unparalleled admiration and trust from grassroots conservatives? I suspect the Heritage Foundation’s fundraising is going to be off the charts in the coming year.

But if the move is great for DeMint and Heritage, it may be not so great for you and me and the rest of the conservative movement.

The issue isn’t really who replaces DeMint; whomever South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley chooses, it’ll be a reliable Republican and probably a reliable conservative (at least by national standards, if not by South Carolina standards). Of course, whoever the new guy is, he’ll be a rookie. DeMint had established himself as the guy willing to be the lightning rod, to be willing to back the Marco Rubios against the Charlie Crists, and the Pat Toomeys against the Arlen Specters. He was willing to take the heat and the flak, and in the process provide some cover for some other lawmakers who might have been less politically secure, less able to take strong stands in less heavily Republican states.  DeMint’s replacement will have big shoes to fill.

The bigger problem is the signal this sends about the prospects for the conservative movement for the next four years or so.

Two years into a six-year term, DeMint decided there was nothing going on in the Senate worth sticking around for, at least in the near future — another four years of President Obama, another two to four years of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. No conservative reform likely to be enacted, no likely prospect of constructive compromise, nothing likely to get done. That is some depressing stuff there, brother.

We have a movement full of people who love their country and who are terrified of the course that it continues to career along. We go to them, and we ask them for their votes, for their time, and for their money. And they give all of those. One of the things we have asked them to do is help elect lawmakers like Jim DeMint . . .

. . . and then DeMint sees something he wants to do more than serve in the Senate and suddenly leaves without warning. And he does it right after our movement feels like it’s been kicked in the teeth by the electorate.

I mean, if Jim DeMint doesn’t see any point to remaining in the Senate for the next two years . . . why should we be so focused on the Senate ourselves?...