Take Me to Your Leader

Erick Erickson at Red State seeks to answer the elusive question of who is leading the conservative resurgence by examining the atmosphere at CPAC:

Many, many reporters have asked me who the leader of the conservative movement is right now or who the leader of the tea party movement is.

They rarely report the answer, though they should be paying attention to it. In the CPAC straw poll, one name dominated the pack. With the highest favorable ratings (73%) and lowest unfavorable ratings (8%), Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina led the field — scoring higher popularity than Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Mike Pence, John Beohner, Mitch McConnell, or Michael Steel.

It’d be easy to dismiss the polling except that, unlike the Ron Paul vote for winner, DeMint’s popular scores across the field from young to old, conservative to libertarian oriented.

Why is that?

Largely, I think it is because Jim DeMint is actually doing what other Republicans talk about — staying true to conservative values and recruiting conservatives. From Chuck DeVore to Michael Williams to Pat Toomey to Marco Rubio, Jim DeMint is picking, funding, and supporting conservatives across the nation in stark contrast to other Republican leaders.

Jim DeMint has been an outspoken force for conservatism, it is true. I’m not sure quite how representative the polling at CPAC was of the conservative movement as a whole, or the Tea Party movement. Given the popularity of Glenn Beck at CPAC, as well as the nature of the Mount Vernon Statement, I was under the (hopeful!) impression that the conservative movement was embracing a more libertarian tone.

I wasn’t too familiar with all of DeMint’s positions, so I took a look at his web page. From his “Issues” page:

KEY ISSUES

Border Security
By maintaining the law we ensure the safety of our homeland and uphold the sanctity of American citizenship

Economic Growth
Washington can give Americans a fighting chance by cutting taxes and giving businesses the opportunity to compete

Education
We must invest in innovative ideas that will ensure our students a lifetime of employability

Family Values
Strong families are the true strength of America

Health Care
Every American should have access to quality, affordable insurance that they can own and keep from job to job

National Security
Defending our nation against its enemies is the first and fundamental commitment of the federal government

Retirement Security
Keeping our promises to this generation — and the next

Transportation & Technology
The engine driving the 21st century

Veterans
Our nation’s veterans honored us with their service when we needed them most and we must continue to honor them

Wasteful Spending
Government spending has ballooned out of control, creating a situation where we’ve mortgaged our children’s future

Sounds good, and sounds representative of conservativism as a whole. Oh, wait, what’s this about Family Values here?

Sen. Jim DeMint believes that strong families are the true strength of America. That’s why it is so important that our nation protect the lives of the most vulnerable, the unborn, and encourage loving families that choose to adopt children in need of a home. That’s why we must protect marriage between a man and a woman because we know children that are raised by a mother and father have the best chance to succeed. And that’s why we need to fight for commonsense judges to protect our rights, our laws, and religious liberties.

DeMint has a 100 percent pro-life voting record. In fact, he has been recognized by numerous pro-life organizations as a national leader to protect family values. He has a 100 percent rating with the Family Research Council, National Right to Life, and the Concerned Women for America.

DeMint believes marriage is the cornerstone to building strong families and communities, and must be protected. For this reason, the senator has consistently supported an amendment to the United States Constitution declaring marriage shall only consist of a legal union between a man and a woman. Also, DeMint has consistently defended federal law pertaining to the sanctity of marriage, including his support for the Marriage Protection Act of 2004. He believes traditional marriage is an important foundation for creating healthy family formation so children will be in raised in the healthiest of environments, setting the stage for their future success.

I’m not sure how supporting a federal law that defines marriage is a conservative position. The federal government has no power whatsoever granted to it in the Constitution to regulate marriage – it is purely a state matter. If the people of a state want to legalize gay marriage, then they can. The federal government cannot stop them from doing so, short of a constitutional amendment, and taking a position which says otherwise isn’t conservative.

Conservativism is about limited government and constitutionalism. Empowering the federal government to act outside its bounds in a effort to prevent the sancitification of a personal relationship is not.

The abortion issue is also touchy. I’m not a big supporter of abortion, athough I’m more inclined to believe that supporting cultural mores that value life and don’t view children as punishments or burdens will do more to decrease abortion that making it illegal. According to DeMint’s Project Vote Page, he indicated that he would not support legaizing abortion in cases of rape and incest. I’m sorry, but that’s just too far — having known the psychological damage that can be done to both mother and child when that child is the result of a rape, I’m of the opinion that such an option should be left open.

All said and done, though, I’m not sure that I’m comfortable not supporting someone becase I disagree with 10% of his positions. I don’t feel strongly enough on the abortion issue for it to be a deal breaker, and I recognize that a lot of conservatives share DeMint’s views of gay marriage. I also recognize that were he to emerge as a presidential candiate, not all of his positions would be enacted into law.

DeMint might be worth watching.

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