Four years ago, appearing on PJTV the night of the election, I said that Rush Limbaugh had then become the interim leader of the conservative movement. Roger Simon, as I recall, disagreed.
In retrospective, I may have had a point. Rush did give a great speech at the following CPAC (2009) challenging the new president and articulating the conservative vision. But, that talker is more a cheerleader and a motivator, than an actual leader. To be sure, he helps us deliver our message and encourages us.
Perhaps Rush came to mind at the time because, in the first eight years of this century, the conservative movement had become increasingly moribund. The Tea Party was not yet born. Few outside Florida had ever heard of Marco Rubio. Bobby Jindal hadn’t even completed his first year as Governor of Louisiana.
Two years later, a whole host of articulate conservatives would rise to the fore, with Bob McDonnell elected Governor of Virginia the following year, then several thoughtful Republicans including Rubio elected to the U.S. Senate, including Ron Johnson from Wisconsin, Rob Portman from Ohio and Pat Toomey from Pennsylvania.
Paul Ryan would soon take over the chairmanship of the House Budget Committee. The Tea Party would become even stronger.
And then, there are the governors committed to reform, including Wisconsin’s Scott Walker, Ohio’s John Kasich, Michigan’s Rick Snyder, New Mexico’s Susana Martinez, South Carolina’s Nikki Haley.
The conservative movement no longer suffers a dearth of political leaders. There now are an abundant amount.
Perhaps now because of his prominence on the campaign trail and his future role in the budgeting process, Paul Ryan will emerge as the next leader of the conservative movement.
The simple fact remains that, although the Republican presidential nominee lost the election to a failed incumbent, the conservative movement is stronger than it was four years ago and ready to do battle.