Sen. Jim DeMint, who by now you know is 1) departing the Senate to head up the Heritage Foundation, and 2) being replaced by Rep. Tim Scott, took to the Senate floor this afternoon to give the traditional farewell address.
Economic freedom, federalism, individual choice, independence, smaller government; as DeMint says, these are all-purpose, workable American ideals and proven solutions rather than complicated political fabrications and phony talking points. The problem, of course, is that conservatives can have the best ideas and solutions on the planet, but these ideas cannot do anybody any good unless conservatives can effectively package and sell them to the American people, who can then send the right representatives to Washington to get the job done. It sounds like DeMint intends to use his next job to focus more on marketing and grassroots outreach — and those are undoubtedly things on which the conservative brand sorely needs some assistance.
I’m leaving the Senate to work on ideas that I know work. I’ve seen them work all over our country. We can look all over our country and showcase these ideas that are working, and I know there is power in ideas, but I’ve learned one thing about the political environment: Unless there’s power behind the ideas, that they will not emerge here in the Congress. If there’s too much pressure on the outside from the status quo, or to protect some political interest, and no matter how much we show that it’s working, it won’t be adopted here unless we’re able to win the argument with the American people.
I spent most of my life in research and advertising and marketing and strategic planning. What I hope I can do from this point is to take these ideas and policies that I know work, and the Heritage Foundation for forty years has been creating the research and analysis that show these policies work, and what I hope I can do is to help connect those ideas with real people, real faces, and to show these people that these ideas are not theory, they’re not political policies, but they’re ideas that are working right at their state or the state right next to them.
And if we can win the arguments, if we can win the hearts and the minds of the American people with these ideas, I know that we can engage them and enlist them to convince all of you here to set the politics aside, the parties aside, and to adopt those ideas that work. My hope is to make conservative ideas so pervasive, so persuasive across the country, that politicians of all parties have to embrace those ideas to be elected.
I’m not leaving here to be an advocate for the Republican party. I hope that we can create more common ground between the political parties by showing everyone that ideas that work for their constituents and our constituents are right in front of our faces if we’re willing to set aside the pressure groups, the special interests, and just focus on what’s working.
…What really makes this country great and strong is when we move dollars and decisions out of Washington, back to people and communities and the states, that it works.