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Irrespective of the outcome of the presidential primaries, it is highly unlikely that we will nominate a reliable and consistent conservative. Unfortunately, with the exceptions of Coolidge, Goldwater, and Reagan, we never do. Not on a presidential level. This year we might nominate someone who is not a conservative at all. Perforce, our most important task going forward (aside for defeating Obama) is to win majorities in both houses of Congress.
What is even more essential is that we elect enough reliable conservatives – ones who will keep their campaign pledges – that we will not be relegated to the minority in those majorities. With the prospect of electing an unpredictable Republican president, in conjunction with tepid leadership in Congress, it is vital that we choose Republicans who will stand on principle, not benchwarmers who will merely serve as yes-men for leadership.
Last year, many of us thought we achieved a historic breakthrough by electing 87 “Tea Party” freshmen. Undoubtedly, many of them have been stalwart fighters for liberty and the limited government principles that buoyed them into office. Unfortunately, many of them voted for the debt deal and every single spending bill, in violation of multiple campaign pledges. Indeed, many of them are anything but Tea Party leaders.
One of the unwavering and indefatigable members of the freshmen class, Mick Mulvaney, had this to say about his fellow rookies:
“I would be embarrassed to tell you how many folks ran saying that they weren’t going to spend a bunch of money, they weren’t going to raise the debt ceiling, and then they went to Washington, D.C., and did exactly that.” My dad told me something long before I was in politics, and when your dad gives you advice every single day, eventually one or two of the things stick in your mind. And he said, don’t believe what people say, believe what they do.”
“We cannot have another experience like we’ve had in my freshman class, of people saying one thing and doing another.”
Thus, despite Republicans winning control of the House, we are still a minority in the majority.
We must internalize this lesson and commit ourselves to harness any opportunity to elect a steadfast conservative. We have very little time this year because all of the primaries have been moved up for the presidential election. There are many solid conservative districts with members who supported every solitary sellout of the legislative session. The disappointment of the presidential election is serving as my inspiration to highlight these races in the coming weeks. Hopefully, you will share that inspiration as well.
For now, there are some clear winners in the Senate races. Here is a list to build on:
Jeff Flake (AZ)
Adam Hasner (FL)
Richard Mourdock (IN)
Josh Mandel (OH)
Don Stenberg (Neb)
Ted Cruz (TX)
Mark Neumann (Wis)
It is also important that we choose a worthy candidate in the wide open primaries for Senate seats in New Mexico and Pennsylvania, two critical swing states. It would be nice if we could light a fire in conservative states like Tennessee and Mississippi. Some of the other senatorial primaries are, for better or worse, already forgone conclusions. Others still need to be sorted out.
Then, with all the open seats, new districts, and disappointing freshmen (and old bulls), there are dozens of House seats that are ripe for picking.
There is a lot to do and very little time left to make a difference.
We all must get to work.