In a must-read morning Wall Street Journal op-ed, Senator Jim DeMint offers some advice to the incoming Tea Party candidates: The battle with your Democratic opponents is over; your war with Republican insiders is about to begin.
Many of the people who will be welcoming the new class of Senate conservatives to Washington never wanted you here in the first place. The establishment is much more likely to try to buy off your votes than to buy into your limited-government philosophy. Consider what former GOP senator-turned-lobbyist Trent Lott told the Washington Post earlier this year: “As soon as they get here, we need to co-opt them.”
Don’t let them. Co-option is coercion. Washington operates on a favor-based economy and for every earmark, committee assignment or fancy title that’s given, payback is expected in return. The chits come due when the roll call votes begin. This is how big-spending bills that everyone always decries in public always manage to pass with just enough votes.
DeMint goes on to list five ways to resist co-option — avoid earmarks, hire conservative staff, be wary of committee assignments, don’t chase after titles, and most importantly…
[D]on’t let your re-election become more important than your job. You’ve campaigned long and hard for the opportunity to go to Washington and restore freedom in America. People will try to convince you to moderate conservative positions and break campaign promises, all in the name of winning the next race. Resist the temptation to do so. There are worse things than losing an election — like breaking your word to voters.
I urge you to take five minutes to read the column in its entirety. It should be printed out and distributed to every conservative and libertarian involved in politics.