We were right.
After a year long campaign for the U.S. Senate, underdog Marco Rubio handily won a three way race that pitted him against Florida incumbent Governor, former Republican, Charlie Crist and Democrat Congressman Kendrick Meek. Along the way, Rubio demonstrated the anti-establishmentarian instincts that lie at the heart of Republican success. He also proved to be a true believer in American exceptionalism, fiscal responsibility, conservative values, states rights and a federal government that uses the Constitution of the United States of America as the basis for its legislation and action..
Marco Rubio now goes to Washington, D.C. where he will have to apply these beliefs to the practical application of government and it is with high hopes that we expect him to live up to our expectations and look forward to bigger and better things for him in the years to come.
As for this year’s choice, there were several compelling front runners. Among them were South carolina Senator Jim DeMint, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, incoming House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, and Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour.
Senator DeMint refused to tow the Party leadership line. He proved himself to be more loyal to conservative principles than Republican politics. Early on, he bucked the establishment and supported candidates that his own Senate leadership opposed. In the end, nearly all DeMint backed candidates won their primaries and elections. Legislatively, DeMint led the fight for fiscal responsibility.
As for Chris Christie, in less than one year’s time as Governor of New Jersey, he took the nation by storm with his blunt and decisive leadership style. He closed a $10.7 billion revenue gap (the second largest in nation), addressed the critical problem of entitlements and state pensions, took unions head on, pushed an important state constitutional cap on property tax hikes and did it all without raising taxes. He quickly became one of most popular incumbent office holders on the campaign trail as he campaigned for Republican gubernatorial candidates across the country.
Congressman Paul Ryan distinguished himself in 2010 with his “Roadmap for America’s Future”, a salient plan that proposes dramatic changes in the way government taxes and spends. At age 40, he now enters his seventh term in Congress and he does so as the incoming House Budget Committee Chairman, one of the most powerful Republicans in Washington, D.C..
As for Haley Barbour, in addition to his exceptional governance of Mississippi, as Chairman of the Republican Governors Association, he proved to be a masterful political tactician and prolific fundraiser. For his gubernatorial candidates, he raised almost more money than the RNC did for all of it’s targeted House and Senate seats and in the end he helped down ticket candidates as well as the top of state tickets.
There were other notable Republicans too, but in 2010, there was one person who proved to be among the most influential in American society.
That person is Sarah Palin.
Throughout 2010, Sarah Palin was in the forefront of politics. Her every word, be it in a brief twitter or a major speech, attracted attention and drew both high praise from the right and sharp criticism from the left. She became the darling of the TEA Party movement and helped lead that movement and many of its candidates to success.
As we look ahead, Palin still remains quite influential and is even shaping the Republican race for President in 2012. As that race unfolds, Sarah’s decision to run or not run, is influencing the decision of other potential conservative candidates, like John Thune and Mike Pence. No matter what, there is no denying Palin’s impact on politics and when it comes to change, the type of change that most voters wanted, Palin led the way.
In regards to her future, it is wide open. She can make of it, whatever she chooses, but only if she is smart about it. Although she has benefited the G.O.P. and conservatives greatly, her own image is quite a polarizing one. As many people cheer her as jeer her. The problem is, it is harder to make people like you and harder to keep them liking you, then it is for them to dislike you. And if Palin has any plans on running for President in 2012, although she would do well among Republicans, before they embrace her as their presidential nominee, they will have to see signs that she can win enough Independents and Democrats to win the general election.
In the meantime, Palin is overexposed and there is little she can do without attracting vast amounts of attention. Being in such a position, in order for her to mount a successful campaign for President, she, more than any other possible candidate, will have to control the story. This will require a crackerjack team of professionals, professionals who know how to exploit the media, instead of allowing the media to continue exploiting her. Palin will also have to at some point soon, stop being the cheerleader and start being the statesman. She must elevate her stature to that of a more serious, highbrowed political leader and be able to hold her own against more polished politicians such as Romney and Barbour.
I do not for one minute doubt that she can do it. The only question is when will she start making the transition from cheerleader to leader? Of course she could be content simply advocating the conservative cause as a private citizen and highly popular spokesman.
Either way, Sarah’s impact on 2010 makes her the 2011 Republican of the Year and what she does in 2011 will continue to influence Republican politics into 2012 and possibly beyond.