That’s the frustration again. Facing defeat after defeat in a situation in which the most he could do was stop some bad things from happening, DeMint didn’t see much conservative vigor among his colleagues. “I just believed that Republicans have not been reliable partners of the conservative cause,” he said. “I think there is a lack of vision and boldness that we need at the national level. I’m not pointing to anyone in particular, but it’s been a long time since I’ve been in a conservative conference where someone stood up and just inspired people with a message of what we really stand for and what America needs at this point.”

The result of that continuing Republican weakness has been — no surprise — Democratic victories. The 2012 results convinced DeMint that those victories weren’t flukes and might go on for quite a while if Republicans don’t change. “After the election it was clear that a majority of Americans believe the Democratic Party can do more for them than Republicans,” DeMint said. “Yet I know, factually, provably, that conservative ideas are working at the state level all around the country. Right-to-work states are attracting businesses. School choice is working for minorities and the poor. And we can prove that Obama’s policies, liberal, progressive policies, in California, Illinois, New York — you can see where they’re going. We are going to continue to lose elections at the national level if we don’t convince Americans that our ideas are better.”