Political Hay

The Importance of Quin Hillyer

A principled conservative in Alabama.

By 9.12.13

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Butternut squash.

Say what?

In the world of disagreements between like-minded conservative colleagues, this was the code word I would use with Quin Hillyer when we had reached that rare stage of disagreement.

It was meant to acknowledge the disagreement -- while making certain that both of us knew that in fact, in the larger world, we were exactly on the same conservative page.

My friend and former colleague Mr. Hillyer is a conservative’s conservative -- the kind who takes umbrage if you mistake that fact. This is decidedly not someone who runs from the fray, trying to figure out what mealy-mouthed toss of word salad can please whomever needs pleasing in the moment. Quin, as it were, takes his conservatism straight-up. He runs straight towards the action, principles fixed.

This is, sadly, a rare phenomenon in the Republican Party, as conservatives have repeatedly learned to their chagrin. But take heart: today that principled political courage is on display as Quin runs for the congressional vacancy in Alabama’s 1st district in Mobile.

And by a quirk of fate -- the resignation of the incumbent -- the special election in the Alabama First takes on a special importance as the place the repeal of not just ObamaCare but the disaster that is the Obama presidency begins.

Which in turn brings us to the subject of the importance of Quin Hillyer.

One of the problems common to holders of public office is that the desire to have a title too often outstrips a well thought out reason for holding the job in the first place. This will never be said of Quin Hillyer. For years in this very publication Quin has spelled out his conservative beliefs in detail. He never wrote for popularity -- not once. Quin always wrote out of passionate belief in conservative principle.

Let me give a small but telling example of what would make Quin a superb congressman.

Remember the Todd Akin disaster? The Missouri GOP Senate candidate who managed to get himself tangled in a tangle over the issue of rape? Immediately jeopardizing what had appeared to be a sure GOP victory? The question surfaced instantly and urgently: Should Akin stay -- or go? Some conservatives looked not unlike that proverbial deer caught in the headlights. Hemming and hawing. Not Quin. He shyly titled his piece: “Todd Akin Should Get the Bleep Out.”

And began it by saying:

Today is the deadline for Todd Akin to exit the U.S. Senate race in Missouri. Obviously, he isn’t going to do so. If he doesn’t, and he then loses, he should never be allowed in polite company again. The country is more important than one man’s attempt at vindication for his own sheer stupidity, ignorance, and insensitivity.

That’s Quin. Nothing shy, always passionate and completely unwilling to pull punches when in fact plain talk is needed. This is a quality that is badly needed in Congress, not to mention the conservative movement and the Republican Party.

But most importantly, Quin knows how to express conservative ideals. Like his heroes Ronald Reagan, Jack Kemp and Margaret Thatcher, Quin believes it is vital that conservatives never allow the Left to get away with linking Big Government to compassion -- and correspondingly linking capitalism to greed. He made a point, for example, of citing Kemp on this issue as follows:

“Democratic capitalism is not just the hope of wealth, but the hope of justice. When we look into the face of poverty, we see pain, despair and need. But, above all, in every face, we must see the image of God. The Creator of All has planted the seed of creativity in us all, the desire within every child of God to work and build and improve our lot in life, and that of our families and those we love.

“And in our work, in the act of creating that is part of all labor, we discover that part within ourselves that is divine. I believe the ultimate imperative for growth and opportunity is to advance human dignity.

“Dr. Martin Luther King believed that we must see a sleeping hero in every soul. America must establish policies that summon those heroes and call forth the boundless potential of the human spirit.”

That was Kemp’s message -- and Reagan and Thatcher’s as well. It is the message of the conservative opportunity society and what the American Enterprise Institute’s Arthur Brooks calls “earned success.” It is message that Quin takes unhesitatingly wherever he goes in Alabama’s First District and one can rest assured that is exactly the kind of voice needed in Congress. Far too many people are elected to Congress having not a clue as to the founding principles of America -- and most importantly how to apply them.

It is senseless in this Age of Obama to send one more politician to Washington who doesn’t understand what Barack Obama meant by “transforming America,” who doesn’t understand the damage this “transformation” has done and continues to do to all Americans. Who doesn’t understand the connection between the Constitution, conservative principle, freedom, ordered liberty and prosperity.

One of the first things a new member of Congress has to master when arriving in some closet of an office on Capitol Hill is policy. This is an ability that Quin has demonstrated time and again in these pages. His subjects have run the gamut from foreign policy to education, health care, the law (don’t get him started on the conduct of the Obama Justice Department!), and most importantly tax policy. A thoroughgoing Reaganite and Kempian, Quin has never met a tax increase that he liked. As a candidate he immediately signed the Taxpayer Reform Pledge to “oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rates for individuals and/or businesses.”

Let’s focus on this for a moment.

Take a good hard look at that $17 trillion debt. How did it get there?

Sadly, it isn’t just the result of Democrats and liberals. Far too many Republicans have shimmied on spending issues -- and, of course, allowed themselves to be intimidated into raising taxes. Most infamously, of course, was the decision by then President Bush 41 to break his “read my lips, no new taxes pledge” -- a decision that spelled the end of his presidency after a single term.

It is very safe to say Quin Hillyer is never going to be making that mistake. It is always amusing to hear former President Clinton boast that he balanced the budget -- without noting that it was the election of the first Republican Congress in forty years that forced him to do it. As Quin notes at his campaign website:

I worked on the House Appropriations Committee during its two most productive years, when we actually cut $50 billion from existing spending to achieve the first balanced budget in 30 years.

This is the kind of qualification for office that can get overlooked in the inevitable hustle and bustle of a campaign, but in fact is critical once a new congressman arrives on Capitol Hill. It isn’t just a question of the technical know-how and the mastery of policy -- both of which Quin has in spades. This is a question of having the will, the backbone, the guts to stare the dragon debt in the eye, calmly pull out the political surgeon’s knife -- and shutout the din from every special interest in Washington.

Recall Quin’s writing of Todd Akin?

That wasn’t popular either. But it was indicative of Quin’s character.

When all is said and done, the single most important quality a member of the United States House of Representatives must possess is character. It is character that enables a congressman not only to have principles and understand those principles, but to stick with those principles when the political winds start to blow -- and blow they most assuredly will.

Quin’s opportunity to run for Congress came about unexpectedly with a resignation of the incumbent. Suffice to say, it wasn’t something he had to do, much less planned to do.

It is something he felt he had to do.

Over at Townhall , another former colleague of mine from Kemp days, Ken Blackwell, wrote a piece on Quin noting that the Hillyer campaign had fifteen days left (thirteen as of today) “to send a conservative fighter with a message the Left fears to Congress.” (Blackwell also provided a link to the Hillyer campaign, here.)

Ken Blackwell is right.

Quin is the very personification of a conservative fighter.

The people of Alabama have an enormous opportunity to begin what might be called taking America “back to the future.”

After over five years of this so-called Obama “transformation” -- which by any measure has shown itself to be an utter disaster -- one can only hope that the way back begins Alabama. Where the First Congressional district is considering the candidacy of Quin Hillyer, a man of character, conservatism, courage and common sense.

As America teeters on the brink of war, its economy in shambles, its president now a global laughingstock, the importance of Quin Hillyer cannot be underestimated.

The future begins in Alabama.

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About the Author
Jeffrey Lord is a former Reagan White House political director and author. He writes from Pennsylvania at jlpa1@aol.com.