Published May 14, 2012
To listen to the political establishment discuss Richard Mourdock’s sweeping, 21 point upset victory over Sen. Richard Lugar in last week's Indiana Republican primary, you might think that something horrible has occurred, like a plane crashing into a mountain.
How could such a thing happen to such a “bipartisan statesman”?
President Obama was one of the first to express his regrets at the defeat of the 36-year incumbent, recalling “during my time in the Senate that [Lugar] was often willing to reach across the aisle and get things done.” Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.) called Lugar’s defeat “a tragedy” and “a blow to the [Senate] during a period when the institution itself has been strained.”
Establishment Republicans had tried to circle the wagons around Lugar’s flailing campaign, with both the American Action Network and the “Young Guns” super PAC spending big money, even encouraging Democrats to cross party lines to vote for him.
The usually level-headed author and Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan also fretted over Lugar’s impending political demise just days before the primary, worried about the dearth of “sober and responsible adults” willing to face challenges like “an entitlement system whose demands will crush our children.”
For Hoosiers on the ground in Indiana, and for those of us who joined with them to retire the octogenarian senator-for-life, we all wondered if we were all discussing the same election, or even residing on the same planet.
Lugar habitually cast votes to expand the role of the government, defending the culture of spending earmarks, and voting for TARP, auto bailouts, progressive Supreme Court justices and S-CHIP -- a mandated health care entitlement program that was a precursor to ObamaCare.
During the election, Lugar even attacked Mourdock for supporting the Ryan House budget plan, claiming falsely, that it “cut every senior's Social Security by nearly $2,500 a year.”
It does not, but the attack sounds strikingly similar to something President Obama or Senator Kerry might say of Republicans’ modest attempts to curb the growth of spending.
This particular Lugar broadside was against a budget that was passed by a Republican House, and voted for by 40 Senate Republicans. This was not very responsible, or statesmen like, or adult.
It was just a typical if desperate attempt to hold onto power for its own sake.
When Hoosiers looked at the record of their senator, they saw a Washington insider who had grown too comfortable in the halls of power -- dishing out favors, spending money, and abandoning his Indiana home for the Beltway.
Mourdock’s victory means that the people of Indiana have the opportunity to elect a true fiscal conservative who is willing to buck Beltway wisdom and do the adult thing -- like not spending money we don’t have and not bailing out failed investment banks.
It is also a bellwether to the millions of citizen activists across the country: If Indiana can retire a six-termer deemed unbeatable by conventional wisdom, they can too.
The Indiana Republican Senate primary was a victory for all citizens trying to take their country back from entrenched politicians intent on driving us off a fiscal cliff.
We won in Indiana thanks to the hard work and dedication of the bottom-up grassroots coalition: Hoosiers for a Conservative Senate. Their payoff is an affirmation that grassroots activists united around a set of ideas and an abiding concern for the future of America can rehabilitate and energize the Republican Party.
Post-election, Mr. Lugar’s refusal to support the candidate chosen by the people he is supposed to represent shows us why we must defeat this kind of politician, regardless of the political affiliation next to their name.
Now the fight turns to Utah and Texas, where insurgent fiscally candidates are rallying Republicans around a core set of Constitutional principles.
In Utah, businessman Dan Liljenquist is up against six-term incumbent Sen. Orrin Hatch, whose abdication of his responsibilities to his constituents mirrors that of Sen. Lugar.
In Texas, Ted Cruz is in a multi-candidate primary to replace the retiring Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.
In both races, grassroots activists are providing the necessary fuel and excitement to ensure that true champions of freedom represent their states in the U.S. Senate.
Richard Mourdock’s victory confirms the spirit of the Tea Party: Nothing -- not terms served, not favors done, not the amount of pork sent home -- will protect politicians if they abandon the principles that made America the greatest country on Earth.
It reaffirms our founding mandate of eternal vigilance against a political class that would serve their interests before We the People.
The people of Utah and Texas are watching, and plan to replicate the success of the “Indiana grassroots model.” Together, we will help Liljenquist and Cruz join Richard Mourdock in not only taking back a Republican majority in the Senate, but building a new fiscal conservative majority with the will to tackle the tough financial and economic challenges our nation faces. That, we know, is the only responsible thing to do.
Matt Kibbe @mkibbe is the president and CEO of FreedomWorks, co-author of “Give Us Liberty: a Tea Party Manifesto” and author of the upcoming book, “Hostile Takeover: Resisting Centralized Government’s Stranglehold on America."