By Senator Jim DeMint
THE 2012 REPUBLICAN PRIMARIES are showing early signs of another banner year for the Tea Party. The candidacies of Republican insurgents such as Richard Mourdock, Josh Mandel, Deb Fischer, Ted Cruz, and Mark Neumann follow the spirit of Senators Marco Rubio, Mike Lee, Pat Toomey, and Rand Paul--who each defeated establishment forces in their 2010 senatorial races. Meanwhile, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who enacted ambitious reforms of public-sector unions in his state, trounced his recall opponent by a seven-point margin.
In just a few short years, the Tea Party has evolved from small, disparate groups scattered all around the country into a full-fledged movement with considerable influence. Tea Party candidates are no passing fad; they are trailblazers of a new, lasting political reality.
For too long, politicians got away with proclaiming the value of fiscal responsibility on the campaign trail without ever acting on it once they were in Washington. But thanks to the Internet, that's no longer an option. Activists around the country have ready access to politicians' voting records, speeches, and statements with just a few clicks of a mouse. It's nearly impossible to mislead voters these days. That's why it's no longer acceptable for candidates to simply mouth conservative rhetoric. Their records must back it up. For that reason, many longtime incumbents, whose walk didn't match their talk, had to go. They couldn't pass muster in an age of transparency.
The pundit class often laments the lack of bipartisanship in Washington and wistfully recalls the good old days when Republicans and Democrats would work together to bring home the bacon and plunge our nation deeper into debt. Times have changed. Jay Cost made an astute observation in his essay "The Politics of Loss" in National Affairs. He said that the stunning economic growth in the postwar era "liberated policy makers from having to make any hard choices. The people could have guns, butter, and low taxes--all thanks to a private economy that seemed to grow regardless of what government did."
Today, however, the private economy is pinned under the jackboot of big government. There's no more room for compromise. When Republicans and Democrats worked together in the past, the result was almost always a bigger, more expensive government. As a result, government now controls our health care, our energy, our education, our transportation, our mortgages, our banks, and countless other things. The debt is now bigger than our gross domestic product.
It's time for toughness. Merely raising the subject of eliminating a single government program provokes ridicule and anger from any number of constituencies. Those who speak frankly and honestly about the decisions that must be made to save our entitlement programs can expect to be labeled in the crudest terms by the Democrat Party and its assorted special-interest groups.
But anyone who looks at the numbers can see that the real radicals are the ones running Washington right now. The creation of our $15 trillion debt is the single most extreme action ever undertaken by the U.S. government. Thankfully, we know what the answers are. Republicans have offered numerous ways to shrink the budget, empower states, reduce the tax burden on Americans, and provide the certainty needed for the economy to flourish once again.
The Tea Party has provided a much-needed infusion of accountability to ensure that the GOP champions the values that have made our nation prosperous. The genius of the Tea Party is that it is not a single group that may one day be corrupted. Its allegiance lies with the Constitution and our founding principles, not with a person or party.
With the Tea Party's backing, Republicans should have the temerity to offer voters a clear and bold choice between the Republican and Democrat agendas. It's not a question of left or right, or red or blue. It's a matter of whether this country succeeds or fails.
That's why I'm laser focused on retaking the Senate with Tea Party candidates who are committed to repealing Obamacare, balancing the budget, securing our border, stopping the bailouts, and enacting pro-growth, freedom-based policies that will get Americans back to work.
This is the new reality. Politicians who fail to recognize it are certain to become relics of the past.
Our nation's survival depends on it.