Is Jim DeMint the next Jesse Helms? The State
Three reasons the South Carolina senator could be on track to become — as Helms was famously known — the most conservative member of the U.S. Senate.
1.HE’S IDEOLOGICALLY RIGID – DeMint, like Helms, is an ideological purist who holds fast to conservative principles such as low spending, low taxes, deregulation and strong national defense.
DeMint also, like Helms, doesn’t mind antagonizing fellow Republicans who drift leftward on those core principles. DeMint emerged as a leader in the Senate during his fight to sink illegal immigration reform, splitting with much of the Republican Party to kill a plan designed by President Bush.
“I spent a number of years as a team player, trying to work with our leadership, only to find that our leadership was taking us in the wrong direction,” DeMint said earlier this month about his willingness to take on his party.
2.HE’S A CONTRARIAN — AND HE LIKES IT – DeMint, like Helms, doesn’t mind being a lone voice and using Senate rules to block legislation he doesn’t agree with.
Last week, DeMint blocked a bill that would provide assistance to lending institutions to help homeowners facing foreclosure. The bill eventually passed the Senate on Friday.
“Ninety-nine senators like (the bill), and DeMint’s holding it up,” said Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, in The Washington Times. “I question the entire Republican caucus for not doing something about (DeMint). I think it’s wrong.”
3.HE’S SPEAKING UP FOR CONSERVATIVES – DeMint, like Helms, wants to be the national voice of conservatism.
• Set up the Senate Conservatives Fund PAC to raise money for Senate candidates who pass his ideological litmus test of opposing wasteful government spending, standing strong on national security issues and supporting traditional family values. He said he could see a day where he would use the money to challenge Republican incumbents.
• Penned a recent book, “Why We Whisper,” that says conservatives are too silent about their beliefs and values. The book prescribes more aggressive advocacy of conservative causes.
• DeMint is raising his national profile by aggressively using the Internet to blog and post videos of himself speaking on an array of social-networking and conservative Web sites.