There are a lot great conservative Americans and almost everyone reading this column could quickly and easily run off many of their names. People like Rush Limbaugh, Thomas Sowell, David Limbaugh, Mark Levin, Mike Pence, Joe Arpaio, Walter Williams, Michelle Malkin, and Ann Coulter have done more good for people than they'll ever know. People like that find a way to make a positive difference for God, country, and the cause every year.
That being said, there are 10 conservative stand-outs, some of them big names, some of them not as well known, who made a particularly big impact this year. This column is just a way, on behalf of millions of conservatives out there, to say, "We noticed what you did and just want to let you know we appreciate it." Honorable Mentions: Dick Armey/Matt Kibbe (Freedomworks), Michele Bachmann (Congresswoman), Haley Barbour (Governor of Mississippi, Chairman of the Republican Governors Association), Glenn Beck (Radio and TV host), Andrew Breitbart (Media mogul), Dick Cheney (Former Vice-President), Erick Erickson (Redstate, Bobby Jindal (Governor of Louisiana), CNN), Tim Phillips/Phil Kerpen (Americans for Prosperity), Tim Scott (Newly elected congressman from South Carolina), Allen West (Newly elected Congressman from Florida)
Conservatives were deeply unhappy when McCain-Feingold passed, not just because it put the GOP at a funding disadvantage, but more importantly, because we believe it was an unconstitutional abridgement of the First Amendment. Well, it took a lawsuit by Bossie and Citizens United over their film, Hillary the Movie to finally blow a hole in McCain-Feingold. Their victory helped get a lot of money flowing to the GOP, it infuriated Obama, who talked about the ruling incessantly, and it helped rectify a constitutional wrong. David Bossie, we salute you.
9) Paul Ryan: You heard the phrase, "Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die?” Well, everybody wants a balanced budget, but nobody wants to make any painful cuts or raise taxes. That's why a lot of people talk the talk about deficit reduction, but few politicians have really walked the walk. Well, Paul Ryan had the guts to walk the walk by releasing his Roadmap for America's future. He's caught plenty of flack for it and it may not be perfect, but it's a great start to tackling an intractable problem that has the potential to sink this country's economic future like the Titanic.
8) Mike Duncan/Karl Rove/Ed Gillespie: In a crucial election year when the RNC, NRSC, and NRCC all underperformed, American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS helped fill in the gap by spending 38 million dollars to help get Republicans elected. Everybody says they want to make a difference. Well, Rove, Duncan, and Gillespie did it by raising and spending enough money to become an integral part of the success that conservatives had on Election Day in 2010.
7) Marco Rubio: The Republican Party always says it wants to get younger, more conservative, and wants to do a better job of reaching out to minorities. So, what happened when a young, dynamic, viable, conservative Hispanic candidate decided to run for the Senate in Florida? Naturally, the cream of the Republican establishment lined up behind Charlie Crist. Charlie Crist was endorsed by the NRSC, Mitch McConnell, Jon Kyl, John McCain, and Lindsey Graham among others. Unfortunately for them, the conservative base endorsed Marco Rubio and the rest is history. Rubio took off like a rocket, Crist left the Republican Party, and then Rubio, who has turned into a conservative leader before he's even gotten into the Senate, smashed both Crist and Kendrick Meek in the general election. Now Rubio's headed to the Senate where he'll have an opportunity to be an impact player for conservatives for years to come.
6) John Boehner: When Mike Pence and John Boehner went toe-to-toe in 2006 for the leadership position in the House, I supported Pence. Additionally, despite the fact that he didn't do a terrible job, I thought John Boehner should have been replaced on general principle after the Republicans got pancaked in 2008. So finally, after standing tall again as Minority Leader in 2010, I think it's time to give Boehner a little credit. In 2010, John Boehner did the right thing, made the right choices, and fought like a lion to stop the Democrats' drive to the Left. He also pledged, if the GOP took over the House, to stay true to conservatism, cut spending, and cut off the funding for health care reform. Conservatives always bemoan the fact that they can't count on the Republican leadership in D.C. Well, as long as Boehner's there, it looks like we'll have at least one guy we can count on.
5) Pamela Geller: Pamela runs the pre- eminent anti-radical Islam website on the Internet Atlas Shrugs, she's in charge of Stop Islamization of America and she had a new book out, The Post-American Presidency: The Obama Administration's War on America.
However, Pamela makes this list because she, more than any other person, was on point in the fight against the mosque at Ground Zero. Right from the beginning she was organizing protests and drawing attention to the project. Meanwhile, she was falsely slurred and attacked by the Left, the mainstream media, and apologists for radical Islam. That was simply because she refused to stand by and say nothing while a celebratory mosque was built in the shadow of the Twin Towers. If the Ground Zero Victory Mosque isn't ultimately built, no one will deserve more of the credit than Pamela Geller.
4) Jan Brewer: When Jan Brewer became public enemy #1 for the pro-open borders and amnesty crowd, she could have backed off. She could have said, "To hell with doing what's right for the people of Arizona; I just want these people to stop falsely accusing me of being a racist." Instead, Jan Brewer had the courage to stand strong and a willingness to come right back at the professional race hustlers, grievance mongers, and America haters who were attacking the state of Arizona for doing nothing more than enforcing the laws the federal government wouldn’t enforce. That kind of conservative boldness in the face of a tidal wave of dishonest criticism deserves to be recognized.
3) Jim DeMint: DeMint has been leading conservatives in the Senate for years and he's caught hell for it from the establishment Republicans. This time around, DeMint decided to get more involved in the elections so he'd have more help in the Senate. Every pick didn't work out for him, but he did manage to help elect grassroots conservatives like Pat Toomey, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, and Mike Lee. Not everybody in the Senate likes Jim DeMint, but no politician in D.C. does more to look out for conservative interests.
2) Chris Christie: You probably couldn't come up with a much more unlikely conservative rock star than Chris Christie. Keep in mind that when Christie ran in 2009, it was Steve Lonegan who was the favorite of grassroots conservatives in the primary. That's not surprising, given that Christie isn't a social conservative. So, how did a non-social conservative who's governor of New Jersey of all places, end up not just making the list, but as the bloggers’ choice for conservative of the year?
Simple: Chris Christie is a bold and pugnacious fiscal conservative who has absolutely no qualms about taking on Democrats, the unions, the media, and anybody else who tries to separate the taxpayers of New Jersey from their hard earned money. At a time when most of America's politicians would watch America sink into bankruptcy rather than gather up the political courage to take tough stands, Chris Christie has proven that one man with courage can make a real difference.
1) Sarah Palin: It might be easier to ask: What has Sarah Palin not done this year? She was one of the most effective voices in the fight against Obamacare, she became a popular Fox News contributor, she just released a new book, she has her own TV show Sarah Palin's Alaska, and she was a force of nature in the 2010 elections where she raised millions, swung primaries with her endorsements, and did more to get women candidates elected this cycle than anyone else in history. Say what you want about Sarah Palin, but nobody in American politics had a bigger and better year than she did in 2010.