Jim DeMint is the Forrest Gump of the Tea Party. He's been everywhere from the halls of Congress to the beating heart of the modern conservative movement at the Heritage Foundation. But after the better part of two decades, DeMint says it's all for naught.
"I've finally realized the most important truth of our time," DeMint said in a Monday press release. "Washington, D.C. will never fix itself." And so with that mindset, the fiery former South Carolina senator and Heritage president got himself a new job.
DeMint just signed on with the Convention of the States Project as a senior advisor. His goal is nothing short of redrafting the Constitution.
"I tried to rein in Washington from inside the House and Senate, then by starting the Senate Conservatives Fund to elect good conservatives, and finally as President of the Heritage Foundation, creating and promoting good, conservative policy," DeMint said.
"But once I realized that Washington will never willingly return decision-making power back to the American people and the states, I began to search for another way to restrain the federal government," DeMint continued.
Frustrated with the standard political approach, DeMint has turned to Article V of the Constitution. He wants to call a Convention of the States to ratify amendments imposing fiscal restraints and term limits on the federal government. Calling another constitutional convention, the first since 1787, DeMint said "is the only solution."
And this is an important shift that shouldn't be missed. DeMint is now dismissing every single conservative political gain, many of which he helped pioneer, as negligible, even those that occurred while he was at the helm of the Heritage Foundation.
Conservatives like DeMint gave Republicans the House in 2010 and then the Senate in 2014. He helped shepherd conservatives like Sen. Mike Lee of Utah into office before nurturing the House Freedom Caucus. And perhaps no other man is more responsible for igniting the anti-establishment blaze that fueled the campaign of our current populist president.
Apparently, none of that mattered. The political parties in Washington have changed, the thinking goes, but the policies haven't.
If that cynicism sounds unmerited, consider the particularly brutal defenestration DeMint just endured at Heritage. After leading the group for four years, he was axed by his allies and unceremoniously kicked out the door in a particularly heartless statement.
A month after that bloodletting though, the think tank appears to be taking a softer line. While Heritage President Ed Feulner has always spoken warmly of DeMint, he took special care to offer his best wishes.
"Throughout his career, Jim DeMint has been a tireless fighter on behalf of conservative beliefs," Feulner told the Washington Examiner. "In his new role, I have no doubt he will remain an active and critical leader within the conservative movement."
More than likely, DeMint's work with the Convention of the States probably amounts to a side hustle. But regardless of what he decides to do full-time, it's clear DeMint has become disillusioned.
Philip Wegmann is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.