Contributed to by Mary Beth House
The country is broke and career politicians are rich — much richer than Governor Palin or Senator Jim DeMint. But after news broke of DeMint’s decision to resign Thursday morning, the talking heads of the GOP’s cocktail party circuit began buzzing. Immediately, Dana Bash of CNN sent out a tweet saying a “GOP Source” had compared the South Carolina Senator to Governor Palin by claiming “DeMint is following Sarah Palin — leave in the middle of a term to make a lot of money.”
In addition, Timothy Carney at the Washington Examiner has chimed in.
“Being ‘poor’ in Congress is like being ‘broke’ at Harvard Business School,” Ari Melber incisively wrote yesterday. The context: Jim DeMint, one of the poorest U.S. Senators , just announced he was quitting two years into his six-year term to take the helm of the Heritage Foundation, a leviathan in the D.C. think-tank world.
We don’t know DeMint’s new compensation, but we know from the non-profit’s 990 forms that DeMint’s predecessor, outgoing president Ed Feulner, earned more than a million dollars last year.
Here’s politician who cashed out in way better than lobbying: Sarah Palin. Maybe it’s embarrassing for a former governor to do a reality show and charge so much for speeches, but at the worst, she’s a publicity hound. She’s not putting her public service to work for special interests.
But DeMint and Palin have more in common: They both quit early.
Failing to serve out a full term is not exactly breach of contract, but it does count as breaking an implicit commitment. If you don’t finish your term, you had better have a very good reason. Is your wife sick? Are you going poor?
For starters, Mr. Carney seems to have no problem admitting that DeMint was "one of the poorest U.S. Senators." But what he fails to acknowledge or explain is also a lot more important to the American people: why are the other politicians so rich?
And if Governor Palin is "cashing in" then why is her net worth at only $12 million? By contrast, Nancy Pelosi’s net worth is low-balled at $35 million, the Bushes are worth $60 million, and the Clintons are worth $80 million. Those are just a few examples of political figures on both sides of the aisle who seem to have forgotten that elected office is supposed to be a service, as opposed to a self-serving career.
After Governor Palin accomplished virtually 100% of her campaign agenda in two-thirds of the time when she served as Alaska’s Governor, she was forced to resign to prevent a small group of extremists from further abusing the Alaska Ethics Act. In fact, after her resignation, the state immediately sought to reform the Act to prevent that kind of abuse from ever occurring again.
Regardless, because of her service, she implemented benefits for low-income seniors, increased funding to education, and used times of surplus to responsibly go through the budget line-by-line and cut hundreds of millions from it. Eventually, by prioritizing with respect to the people’s money, she was able to put billions away into state reserve accounts.
While Obama presided over America’s first credit downgrade, Alaska’s credit rating was increased by Moody’s. It is now one of only 15 states with the agency’s top rating. This was achieved due to Governor Palin’s policies put in place during her time in office.
What about Senator DeMint? Why did he resign from office? The answer is so clear that only a Washington insider or media pundit would have a problem figuring it out.
Senator DeMint has been a champion of Tea Party principles. He’s locked horns many times with members of his own party when they’ve proven weak. Further, he worked hard along with Governor Palin to make the way for many Tea Party additions to Congress like Senator-Elect, Ted Cruz.
Senator DeMint truly believes in the principles he espoused. He believes in limited government, unleashing the power of the private sector and all the other tenants of conservative thought. And since he has such a passion for these values, he wants to be in a position where he can affect real, tangible change to help restore our Republic.
As a Senator in the minority party, he knew his chances to be that agent for reform were severely curtailed but at the Heritage Foundation, he would be in a place where he could do more for the cause of liberty.
He also knew that there were others now from the class of 2010 and 2012, such as the aforementioned Senator-Elect Cruz, who would help fill in the gap his absence would leave while he moved on to a role that would give him the power to influence legislation and policy in a way that he could not as a Senator.
Nevertheless, the press will continue to try to diminish both Governor Palin and Senator DeMint in any way they can. They are no strangers to rewriting history and pushing false narratives to suit their interests. They need people to believe Governor Palin and Senator DeMint’s departures from office must have been for purely selfish and puerile reasons, such as a larger payout. This is of course false; and one only has to look at the lives and records of the two to understand that such is anathema to their individual characters.
The true challenge in public service is measured by accomplishments and action, not by how many years someone sits around. When you take an oath, you promise to uphold the Constitution and do right by the people. The time allotment of any given term is not the test. In fact, it’s a limit created to prevent one from enjoying a public job without facing the inevitable review that takes place when voters go to the polls.
The path designed by Washington lifers has been tried and tested. It’s contributed to taking the greatest nation on Earth and has delivered results of disparity and misery to the people. Maybe, just maybe, if we could get people like Timothy Carney (and many others) to focus on what a public servant does while in office as opposed to admiring the cobwebs, wealth, and power collected by career politicians, we wouldn’t be in the mess we’re in today.