Editor’s note: Conservative Review does not endorse candidates. This piece reflects the personal endorsement of senior editor Daniel Horowitz.
It’s getting old. Every election cycle, members of both failed parties run as agents of change with cookie-cutter platitudes on issues they don’t understand, have no intention of addressing, and are incapable of fixing. The minute they get into office, their campaign rhetoric is history and they fall in line with the system. The few brave dissenters are never effective voices for a positive, new, innovative, and systemically different agenda.
There is one man who was elected in 2012 and not only voted the right way and stood for the right things from day one, but overturned every accepted norm for a new senator and challenged the status quo on almost every issue, even to the point where he called his own party leader a liar. That man is Ted Cruz.
But behind every rare man of valor in politics is often an even better staff that gives him the intellectual and emotional firepower, fortitude, and encouragement (and even some coaxing) to stay solid and keep plodding forward. While Ted Cruz is one of the bravest conservatives of this generation and has his own gifted qualities, it’s not an exaggeration to say that a predominant reason he stayed so strong in his first year and hit the ground running from day one was his first chief of staff: Chip Roy.
Now, Chip Roy, a beloved friend and “trenchmate” of so many of us who fight for the Constitution, is picking up the ball himself. He is running for Congress in Texas’ San Antonio/Austin-based 21st district, which is being vacated by Rep. Lamar Smith.
I’ve grown weary of endorsements. Unlike principles and issues, people are malleable. Also, no matter how much you think you get to know human beings, they are like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’ll get.
But there’s something very different in this case. We always lament, “Why can’t one of us run for office?” That’s exactly the calling Chip is selflessly answering.
It is practically impossible to find a candidate who has the spine of a bullfighter and is brilliant on the issues, is articulate, fully understands the legislative process from day one, has a very specific agenda from the get-go, knows every subterfuge of the GOP leadership backwards and forwards, and has the ability to run a competent campaign. All those qualities in one package essentially don’t exist. But here we are.
As Steve Deace and I discussed on Steve’s CRTV show this Wednesday, when Chip Roy called each of us to gauge our opinion on his potential run, rather than jumping for joy, both of us seriously tried to talk him out of it. “The House is a miserable place to be,” I told him. “There is no initiative, nobody to work with, and you won’t even have such a big platform for all your sacrifice, such as a Senate seat or governorship.” “Besides, if they see you are on your way to winning, they will burn you to the ground and destroy your life. After surviving a scary bout with cancer, is this really what you want to do?” “Does [your wife] Carrah know what she’s getting into? Sure, the political animal in me would love for you to run and give voice to the voiceless and the forgotten patriots in this country, but as a friend, how can I wish this on you?”
Chip’s response demonstrates why he is running for all the right reasons, more than anyone else. He replied to me by observing that it’s very easy to be a conservative writer, thinker, talker, think tank guy or to run a PAC, but it seems to be so hard to actually get one of our own to uproot his life and go into the buzz saw himself. We need men on the field, not just cheerleaders in the audience. We always complain about the status quo and bemoan the lack of voice for our new ideas, but few of us are willing to run.
Thus, he’s not only running to be another member of the House or even another member of a conservative group. He is running to immediately be that voice for systemic change as well as our short-term priorities that get ignored by almost every Republican — whether it’s a budget, a defense bill, or a news story that is influencing a policy debate. He is running to make every day of every week of every month count, as if it’s a two-year-only proposition. He is running solely to do the right thing with no regard for what happens in the next election.
Chip is most passionate about solving this vicious cycle of the phony two-party fight by forcing a debate over localism. His most recent job was heading up the Tenth Amendment Center at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, where he has championed the idea that, as a polarized society, the only way forward is to disagree through federalism and return as much power to state and local governments as possible. Whether it’s health care, taxes, or the judicial crisis, Chip understands the need to return power to the states and is willing to push transformational ideas that speak beyond the trite talking points of the typical quasi-conservative politician. For anyone who truly wants to solve our political problems and ditch the mindless bromides, this is an agenda that should appeal to voters of all ideologies. He wants to lead a broader movement and be a problem solver within the appropriate confines of the Constitution.
I still think he is crazy for deciding to run in this environment, knowing what I know about him personally. But that is precisely why conservatives should be excited by the prospect of someone like that being dispatched to the swamp.
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Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.