I sometimes jokingly refer to myself as 003, which means I have been active at the national level of the conservative movement longer than every living conservative except for two others. 002 is Dr. Lee Edwards, Senior Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, and 001 is the first lady of the conservative movement, Phyllis Schlafly.
I say this to emphasize the fact that I know what it’s like for the conservative movement to be on hard times, and 2014 is a time to be encouraged and optimistic.
I strongly disagree with my friends at the local, state and national level who are discouraged, disappointed and disillusioned. In my opinion, there are more reasons to be encouraged now than at any time in my 53 years at the national level of the conservative movement.
As I point out in my recent book Takeover, limited government conservatives are winning.
I was with Young Americans for Freedom in Washington, D.C. in 1964 after Goldwater’s massive loss, when there was a darkness in the conservative movement of Biblical proportions that continued through Nixon’s resignation in 1974. Then our arch enemy Nelson Rockefeller became Vice President, followed in 1976 by Ronald Reagan’s defeat for the nomination and Jimmy Carter’s election as President.
During most of the 1970s I felt that I wouldn’t be surprised to see plagues of locusts, frogs, flies and boils appear.
And remember, in the 1960s and 1970s we did not have talk radio (Rush, Hannity, Levin, Laura Ingraham, etc.), cable TV (Fox News), and the Internet.
We did have Ronald Reagan, but not much else. Today, we have Senators Rand Paul, Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Congressmen Louie Gohmert, Jeb Hensarling, Jim Jordan, Justin Amash, Tim Huelskamp and others.
And we have numerous promising governors including Mike Pence, Scott Walker, Sam Brownback, Bobby Jindal, and Suzanna Martinez.
And we certainly didn’t have the TEA Party and its millions of supporters.
One reason some conservatives are discouraged is because of some high-profile primary defeats this year.
But remember that about 95% of TEA Party/conservative victories in the last few years have come in open races – with no incumbent. It’s exceedingly difficult to beat an incumbent in a primary.
But even though conservatives defeated few incumbents, this primary season we did defeat the Republican House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor.