If you want to understand the fundamental difference between the pale-pastel and the bold-colored wings of the GOP, take a look at this Politico profile of Jim DeMint.
With Kay Bailey Hutchison retiring at the end of the year, Jim DeMint is slated to become the new Chairman of the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee in the 113th Congress. It is so unique for a revolutionary conservative to attain the chair of such a broad and powerful committee that Politico did a story soliciting comments from fellow members regarding DeMint’s future success as chairman.
Here is the money quote from Kay Bailey Hutchison:
“I think he has a decision to make, what he wants his role to be. Does he want to have an impact on legislation that can pass? Or is he going to stop the legislation from ever being good enough to pass?” said outgoing Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, the committee’s top Republican, in an interview. “If he wants to continue to be the strong voice for not passing legislation that has compromise in it, perhaps he would bypass being the chairman and continue to have that warrior role, but not a governing role.”
This comment cuts to the core of the political conviction of most Republicans. All that talk of limited government and free markets is reserved for bombastic rhetoric during campaigns. After all, that’s what the rubes in the Republican grassroots want to hear. But when assuming office, you need to eschew those values and begin “governing.” To people like Hutchison, governing means to work hand and glove with Jay Rockefeller on the Commerce Committee to grow government, or at the very least, to “have an impact on legislation that can pass.” For the pale-pastel crowd, conservative principles are reserved for the warriors who play the red-vs-blue game; they have no place in governance.
Jim DeMint, on the other hand, envisions his role of committee chairman as a means of thwarting the big-government agenda promulgated by the likes of Jay Rockefeller.
“I say we can’t solve the problems we got with the same people who created it,” DeMint said in an interview in his Senate office. “The warrior role is going to be the governing role in the sense we are fighting a status quo that is close to destroying our country.”
DeMint defines compromise using rhetoric that is sure to please the tea party wing of his party: Compromise is when Democrats and moderate Republicans move toward your position. Or, as DeMint put it, his side is the one consisting of “reasonableness, it’s the side of what works, it’s the side of what we can afford.”
“I think it’s important for him to know that I’m not interested in compromising just to pass something,” DeMint said of Commerce Committee Chairman Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), with whom DeMint will share committee leadership.
DeMint is correct. It is this desire on the part of Republicans to “just pass legislation” that has saddled us with $15.8 trillion in debt. It is these “do something” Republicans that have gone along with the Democrat anti-free-market agenda energy policy in pursuit of government-run commerce; from green energy subsidies to mandates for ethanol and the use of crony capitalist products.
It is high time for us to have a leader of the Commerce Committee who will not “govern” commerce, rather someone who will let the private sector handle commerce. Leadership has spent years trying to block Jim DeMint from merely obtaining a seat on the super-A Finance Committee. Now they will have no excuse to prevent him from leading the Commerce Committee.
For all the talk of gridlock and partisanship in DC, the reality is that 90% of the legislative activity is bipartisan, especially on a committee level. The problem is that we don’t have enough good conservatives as committee chairmen. It’s not enough to merely elect conservatives to Congress; they must also be willing to “govern” and seek positions of power. We just need more members who share Jim DeMint’s view of governing.