Ken Cuccinelli wants to be Virginia’s next governor.
People in his position tend to make nice and kowtow to the hierarchy in their political party. If – yes, if – they have strong principles, they tend to suppress them when principle conflicts with party bosses.
At Newt Gingrich’s request, I recently convened a meeting between Newt and uncommitted leaders of the conservative movement, much along the lines of meetings convened by others between conservative leaders and other candidates such as Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum.
Each of these meetings featured penetrating questions by some of the country’s top conservative leaders and thinkers during their no-holds barred question and answer sessions. Mind you, these are conservative movement and Tea Party leaders who are not seeking office. They’ve got nothing to lose by asking tough questions that might not sit well with the candidates.
None of the questions I heard in those meetings really captured the mood of the Tea Party and constitutional conservative movements better than the questions asked of former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.
Cuccinelli asked in essence “how can we trust that you won’t be a big government conservative?” It is a question that every Republican candidate for President should answer, and the answer may very well decide who will be the next President of the United States.
But it got better. Cuccinelli didn’t just ask a question and sit down. It was like a cross-examination and a prize fight in one, and Cuccinelli kept pressing and challenging Speaker Gingrich, keeping him on point.
You don’t see candidates for governor pressing a potential president from their own party that way. They want friends in high places. They know politicians remember, keep score, and provide payback.
It reminded me of the YouTube videos from the first year of the Tea Party, where concerned citizens were showing up at town hall events and actually challenging political leaders. The political leaders got angry. “You people below me aren’t supposed to do that.”
I would watch those videos and say about the Tea Party, “Where have you been? I’ve been waiting 50 years for you to come along.”
I got that same sense watching General Cuccinelli question Newt Gingrich.
“Where have all the principled, courageous candidates been? Why don’t we have more leaders who put principle ahead of political ambition?”
Gingrich is made of tough stuff and jousted back. I’m sure, though, he didn’t leave that meeting thinking, “Gosh, I hope Cuccinelli’s the next Virginia governor so he can continue to dog me when I stray from conservative positions.”
To win in 2012, Republicans must hold together the traditional triad of economic, social and defense conservatives, and the newly energized constitutional conservatives of the Tea Party movement, which has added a fourth ‘leg’ to what was the three-legged conservative movement, making the movement larger, stronger, and more formidable.
The constitutional conservatives’ goals are taming the federal establishment and returning the Constitution as the paramount law of the land.
Hopefully we conservatives have figured out that one leader alone isn’t going to save America’s exceptionalism. Sure, we want the White House. But we need the Senate. We need to replace the leaders of the Republican Party. We need originalist judges. We need the states.
We need leaders who will govern as conservatives.
We’re fighting mad about the Republican establishment. We’re fed up with the whole political establishment. And, we’re not going to be bullied by the ruling class in and out of government.
Every once in a while a figure comes along who embodies a movement at that particular time. Ken Cuccinelli is the mood of the Tea Party and small-government, constitutional conservative movements.
If you don’t like Ken Cuccinelli’s candid, bold approach, just remember there are tens of millions of us standing right behind him.