We need more principled politicians like Richard Mourdock

Matt Kibbe President, FreedomWorks
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If you put all your faith in one politician, you will always be disappointed. This is especially true if he or she holds a position in government with no legislative authority.

The only sure path toward paying off the national debt and restoring economic confidence nationwide extends beyond simply taking back the White House. Republicans need to elect bold fiscal conservatives to the House and Senate who will drive the legislative agenda with the responsible budget solutions and pro-growth reforms necessary to get Americans back to work.

We have already seen the damage and missed opportunities that results from the lack of leadership in our current Democrat-controlled Senate. Common-sense legislation proposed by fiscal conservatives in the House such as extending the Bush tax cuts, auditing the Federal Reserve, repealing Obamacare, and numerous balanced budget proposals have all died under Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s watch.

The solution to removing the bottlenecks and barriers to progress is not to elect the perfect president. We have to create in the House and Senate legislative majorities controlled by fiscal conservatives who hold a commitment to making the tough decisions necessary to get the economy back on track.

The media and the political establishment’s fixation on the battle for the White House is partly the result of their desire to ignore what they don’t want to see. It also represents a genuine confusion surrounding the larger paradigm shift happening right before their eyes.

The decentralized, bottom-up model of the Tea Party movement is confounding the old-school opinion makers, who still measure political solvency by the “old criteria,” such as the amounts of money raised for advertising, connections to power players inside the Beltway, and name identification.

The political playing field has been flipped onto its head in recent years, and the rules for political campaigning have been rewritten. The new criteria: the set of principles a candidate believes in, how consistently he or she adheres to them, and the level of grassroots energy on the ground.

Tea Party activists, and others who sympathize with their limited-government ideals, are putting principle over political party at the ballot box this year. They are educating and informing citizens, examining candidates’ voting records, and demanding more than a stale career politician handpicked by party leadership.

Nowhere is this demonstrated clearer than in Indiana, with Richard Mourdock’s historic primary victory over big-spending Republican incumbent Sen. Dick Lugar. Sen. Lugar earned himself the title of “Obama’s favorite Republican” through a long history of votes to expand the size and cost of government, including votes for debt ceiling increases, the TARP and auto bailouts, and massive expansions of government-run health insurance through the S-CHIP program.

Hoosier taxpayers knew they deserved better, and looked for an upgrade in Richard Mourdock. As Indiana’s state treasurer, Mourdock has returned an average of 10 percent of the state’s budget to the Treasury each year and led the legal fight to challenge the Obama administration’s automobile bailout and takeover of Chrysler. On May 8, Mourdock defeated six-term incumbent Lugar in the Indiana Republican Senate primary by a historic margin of 22 percent, despite having a campaign war chest half the size of Lugar’s. Nearly 700,000 Hoosiers voted in that primary — more than the number of Hoosiers who voted in the 2008 GOP presidential primary, the 2010 GOP Senate primary, or the 2012 presidential primary. Mourdock even garnered more votes in Indiana than Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential nominee.

What made this underdog blowout victory possible? The grassroots enthusiasm and efforts on the ground to elect a strong fiscal conservative were relentless. Hoosiers from across the state took to the streets and planted over 20,000 yard signs, knocked on 125,000 doors to distribute voter education materials, made over 400,000 phone calls to registered voters, and sent over 150,000 piece of mail, including 50,000 of our “Retire Lugar” books, to pre-identified households. They may have been out-spent by the Republican establishment, but they weren’t out-worked.

Many in the media and the political establishment questioned whether the “Hoosier Model” of grassroots organizing was an anomaly, an outlier victory that could not be replicated in larger states like Texas. Once again, members of the freedom movement proved them wrong. More on that next week.

Matt Kibbe is the president of FreedomWorks and the author of the “Hostile Takeover: Resisting Centralized Government’s Stranglehold on America.