Plenty of the selections within TIME magazine’s annual list of the 100 “most influential people” are likely to make you scratch your head or grumble. But one pleasant element of the list is that the handful of conservative honorees get sympathetic blurbs from like-minded public figures.
David and Charles Koch are patriots. By grit, persistence and hard work, they built a $100 billion-a-year business that employs tens of thousands. They give generously to medical research, the arts, education, think tanks and science. They care deeply about the values that make success in America possible — free markets, freedom, limited government and competition.
This has led them to the political arena, where they give tens of millions and raise hundreds more to back candidates and causes. For this, they have been excoriated by the left, while the left remains hypocritically quiet when George Soros, Tom Steyer and other left-of-center rich spend to influence politics.
The Kochs have answered abuse with courage, giving encouragement to others on the center-right to get into the fight.
Any political party worth its salt is always on the lookout for converts. But no one in either party today brings the level of missionary zeal to the task that Rand Paul does. From Berkeley, Calif., to Detroit, my Kentucky colleague has been cheerfully clearing a path for Republican ideals in the unlikeliest precincts. And he’s done it with rare magnanimity, making common cause with anyone who agrees that an all-powerful government in Washington is a threat to individual liberty — and to the American project itself.
His battle to bring fairness to the taxpayers through commonsense reform of the public-sector collective-bargaining laws brought him scorn from the special interests and a recall election. Despite these threats, he stood tall. His reforms have brought tax reductions to his citizens and economic growth to his state. They have allowed public workers the freedom to choose whether to belong to a union. They have made Wisconsin a better place to live and work.
His reward? A resounding “re-election” in 2012 after the failed recall, prosperity for his state and the satisfaction of knowing that the public does recognize and appreciate an officeholder with the courage of his convictions.