DeMint Says Conservatives Must 'Define Our Terms'

In the last week, Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) has traveled to Iraq, drawn attention to injustice towards Marines in Berkeley, California and lambasted America’s most detrimental overspending problem — earmarks.

The National Journal’s 2007 most conservative senator spoke at the Heritage Foundation yesterday. On the Berkeley incident, where the rights of anti-Marine protestors have been protected and the rights of pro-Marine protesters deprived, he said law enforcement has “taken a decidedly secular view…and by implication, traditional views are wrong.” Therefore, he said, individuals who disagree with secular views like those of the protesters, are fighting against the government.

Partisan feelings run high in America but DeMint reminded the audience that no society in history has remained “free and democratic without strong values and a shared culture.” He said conservatives must “define our terms or lose this battle” in 2008.

On taxes, healthcare, social security and education, DeMint lauded more choice, individual plans and less government to “make freedom work for everyone.”

Calling 2008 a “critical election,” DeMint said Republicans have “more opportunity than we’ve ever had but also…opportunity to ruin it…”

“The principles and ideas of conservatism are what people want if we let them know we can get it to them,” said DeMint.

He ticked off a list of actions to restore conservatism, including permanent tax reform, eliminating earmarks, access to affordable healthcare and withholding dues from the United Nations until they posit a more “workable” system.

Moreover, he said government must create predictable funding, like “commit[ting] at least 4% of the economy…to the military consistently.” He also said government needs to talk about “amending the Constitution to require a balanced budget.”

In moving forward this conservative agenda, DeMint has chosen to support John McCain for President. Like much of the conservative establishment, DeMint has ceded to McCain’s nomination despite the Arizona Senator’s low rating of 65 by the American Conservative Union in 2006.

DeMint said he and McCain were “together…on most issues” and McCain will “carry a banner in a way that makes us proud.” He warned that conservatives need to “realize what our chances are” in this election and “find common ground or we will end up with something we really don’t like.”

DeMint admitted that he had backed Mitt Romney, but said America did not look at the presidential resume in making their choices.

Romney endorsed McCain yesterday afternoon, asking his delegates to vote for McCain at this summer’s convention. These pledges of support add to a growing conservative base that is left with no choice — in part due to what DeMint said was bad salesmanship on the part of Republicans.

DeMint said he believes McCain can win the general election with support from independents (“most…are center right”) and “Reagan Democrats.”

“We need boldness…and that may be the best attribute McCain has,” said DeMint. “He knew his position on immigration could keep him from being President and he did it anyway.”

McCain is the presumptive Republican nominee but DeMint said it’s up to the American people to really make a change in the nation. He pointed to the alternative media like conservative blogs, talk radio and some cable networks to consult the public directly to make changes. He noted the grassroots action that toppled last year’s immigration bill.

“If they knew the truth, they’d be marching on Washington…they would take this government back,” said DeMint.