The past year has been one of great highs and lows for conservatives. These are among the many whom we should thank and remember as we look towards the future.
10. Jim Jordan – The outgoing head of the Republican Study Committee led the fight for “Cut, Cap, and Balance” as an conservative proposal during the debt ceiling battle of 2011. The failure of the so-called Supercommittee, and the impending “fiscal cliff,” are a sobering reminder of Jordan’s warnings. His ideas should influence future GOP policies.
9. Bret Baier – There are many to thank in the much-maligned conservative media: Rush Limbaugh for his insightful humor; Sean Hannity, for his pursuit of Obama’s past; Mark Levin for his constitutional wisdom; and others. Baier and his colleagues at Fox stood out for their unique and ongoing determination to expose the Benghazi scandal.
8. James Madison – Conservatives focused on the Constitution in 2010–and won. Mitt Romney ran on the economy in 2012–and lost. The domineering federal government championed by Obama reminds us that Madison’s vision of a system of checks and balances is not only relevant but the basis of an opposition agenda for the future.
7. Scott Walker – A shining example of good leadership, he took on the might of the public sector union racket in the original “progressive” state–and won. In so doing, he brought Wisconsin’s budget from deficit to surplus, saved jobs in local school districts, renewed the state’s business climate, and created a new model for reform across the nation.
6. Susana Martinez – The nation’s first female Hispanic governor gave a stirring address to the Republican National Convention that still stands as a rebuke to those who have seized on the election results to tarnish the GOP as an old, white, male party. Her story is a blueprint for how Republicans should reach out to more minority voters and leaders.
5. Allen West - The Tea Party insurgent lost a close re-election battle in which Democrats portrayed him as a black thug beating an elderly white woman. The mainstream media let Democrats off the hook for that egregious use of racism. But West fought to the end, and remains an inspiring leader for conservatives. He will be back to rally the troops.
4. Tom Cotton – The farmer-turned-lawyer-turned-soldier-turned-politician scored one of the few pickups for Republicans in the House, and will bring both a formidable intellect and a heavy resume to Congress. A future leader, Cotton has already earned fame for taking on the New York Times‘s coverage of the war on terror–while stationed in Iraq.
3. Paul Ryan – The bravest man on Capitol Hill, Ryan not only touched the “third rail” of American politics, but ran on it, campaigning on entitlement reform as the GOP nominee for Vice President. Mitt Romney may have lost, but Ryan showed that the public is more receptive to serious reform ideas than ever, and that “Mediscare” is no longer fearsome.
2. Stacey Dash – The prominent black actress came out of the closet by supporting Mitt Romney–and instantly faced a torrent of racial and personal abuse from the left. Her bravery reminds us that conservatives are not alone in Hollywood, and have principles that will attract supporters from all backgrounds, when we are willing to fight for them.
1. Andrew Breitbart – He predicted almost everything about the 2012 election, from the media’s “dog whistles” to the community-organizing tactics of the Obama campaign. He also warned conservatives to take the culture war more seriously–and Republicans are starting to listen. His mission and his vision continue to lead the way for conservatives.