Dan McLaughlin was talking about the most influential conservatives of his lifetime. So I got to thinking about who I think the most influential modern conservatives were.
It’s not 100% “in my lifetime” as Goldwater’s direct influence had waned substantially by the time I was born, but the effects of his Presidential run were still being felt.
The list, in order:
- Reagan – Presidency changed the GOP
- Buckley – Founded the modern conservative movement
- Scalia – His wit inspired countless conservative legal minds
- Goldwater – Presidential run grew what Buckley started
- Rehnquist – The Lone Ranger paved the way for Scalia
- Gingrich – Shrank the government in a way few ever have
- DeMint – Forerunner of the TEA party anti-establishment revolt
- Erickson – Champion of the TEA party revolt, outsider’s voice
- Helms – Senator No, tireless warrior in the Senate
- Thomas – Much quieter than Scalia, but heroically withstands the left’s arrows