HERO WORSHIP ASIDE, THIS IS TERRIBLE NEWS FOR TAXPAYERS AND FREE MARKET SUPPORTERS
U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint’s decision to resign his seat and become president of a Washington, D.C. think tank caught literally everyone in the political world by surprise. It also set off an avalanche of hero worship from establishment Republicans who have spent the last few years cursing DeMint under their breath, hoping he would stop making their lives miserable and join his tax-and-spend brethren in the GOP Senate Caucus.
Make no mistake: these liberal “Republicans” are grinning from ear-to-ear in the wake of DeMint’s announcement – as are liberal “Republicans” here in South Carolina.
More importantly for those of us living in the Palmetto State, DeMint’s decision to leave the Senate has fundamentally altered South Carolina’s political landscape – for the worse. It is NOT a great day in South Carolina, people – unless of course you’re one of the cookie cutter “Republican” political consultants who is grooming this or that mouth breather for the “next level.”
This website has praised DeMint almost without ceasing over the last four years – and with good reason. The one-time “go along to get along” Republican realized circa 2008 that his party had abandoned its fiscal principles – and that someone needed to hold the party (and its elected officials) accountable. So DeMint resolved not to “play ball” with the Washington crowd anymore – even if that meant missing out on opportunities to climb the ladder and depriving South Carolina of bureaucracy-inflating tax dollars.
DeMint’s decision took courage. In fact his conversion should be an example to “Republican” at all levels of government that you can survive – and thrive – by aggressively advocating the principles that the Grand Old Party claims to embrace.
Next to U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, no one in Washington has “walked the walk” with the same level of consistency as DeMint … period. Which is why his decision to abandon his post with four years remaining in his term is so disappointing. In fact for those of us who care about the advancement of the fiscal conservative, free market ideology at all levels of government – DeMint’s decision is shaping up to be downright devastating.
First, it is a foregone conclusion that DeMint will be replaced by a status quo establishment “Republican,” whether it be Tea Partier-turned-insider Tim Scott or a “caretaker” like former S.C. Attorney General Henry McMaster or U.S. Ambassador David Wilkins. Either way, taxpayers lose in that equation. And while Scott might vote in a manner similar to DeMint (we stress “might”), there is no way in hell he will show the same willingness to buck the GOP establishment or actively criss-cross the nation taking on liberal GOP incumbents.
Only someone like Mick Mulvaney, Tom Davis or Jeff Duncan would do that.
Equally problematic, DeMint’s decision triggers a special election in two years. That means liberal U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham – who is also up for reelection in 2014 – will have a much easier time winning a third six-year term. Again, that’s devastating news for taxpayers.
Finally, DeMint’s decision gives struggling S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley an opportunity to rehabilitate herself politically – although we don’t believe that one well-received political appointment is going to do much to lift her abysmal poll numbers. One thing is for certain though, after a month of wall-to-wall negative coverage about her mishandling of a major crisis at the S.C. Department of Revenue – NO one is talking about that scandal anymore.
At least not for the time being …
But the big picture all goes back to Jim DeMint – and what prompted his surprise announcement.
For months DeMint supporters have been working hard to walk back his prior statements about serving only two terms in the U.S. Senate. They believed – as we did – that Mitt Romney would win the 2012 election and that Republicans would pick up seats in the U.S. Senate in 2012 and 2014. As a result, DeMint would have been in line to lead the powerful Senate Commerce Committee – a perch from which his free market ideology might have developed some bite to go with its bark.
Obviously the results of November 6 shattered those hopes – which may be why DeMint has shifted from preemptively justifying an additional six-year term to clocking out less than a third of the way through his current term.
DeMint apparently didn’t want to tilt at windmills anymore – at least not drawing a legislators’ salary.
It’s not for us to say whether DeMint is correct in his belief that he can “do more” for the conservative cause at the helm of the Heritage Foundation. Maybe he will. We certainly hope he will. But his absence in the U.S. Senate remains a severe setback for lovers of liberty and prosperity.
“No one has quite proven so willing to draw a thick line in the sand quite like DeMint,” a column in The Daily Beast observed.
Even with DeMint drawing that “thick line,” America rushed headlong into the dependency abyss – with most “Republicans” paddling over the falls every bit as furiously as Barack Obama and the Democrats. Without DeMint in the Senate, the trajectory is truly frightening to ponder. And that’s why at the end of the day we’re profoundly disappointed in his decision – and thoroughly depressed by the “short list” of candidates being considered to replace him on an interim basis.