At a time when internal conflict in the Republican Party is all too common, it can be difficult to find a guiding light of leadership in the scrum. More often than not, it’s the loudest Republican voices that get the most attention. Controversial figures like Steve Bannon and Roy Moore dominated media coverage of the GOP in 2017, but the focus of their diatribes is not concrete Republican policy. Individuals like Bannon and Moore spewed meaningless political fluff meant to enflame voters and fuel the media circus; they thrive on popularity and attention. Thankfully, recent events have put Steve Bannon and Roy Moore out of the spotlight and it is likely their political influence will be minimal going forward.
Because these types of outspoken figures have become well-known through the widespread publicity of their antics, some might come to believe that it’s the Bannons and Moores who are the GOP’s most prominent leaders. But leadership is much more than how many dramatic headlines are written about you. The measure of a great leader is not how loudly you can shout and how many people can hear you, it’s how many people will actually listen.
Roy Blunt is one of these great leaders. Though he is one of the most powerful and influential members of the senate, he doesn’t feel the need to hear himself talk. He is one of the few leaders in congress who believes that the measure of a leader isn’t who makes the most promises but who delivers on promises made.
Blunt is not your typical example of a politician — in fact, before entering politics Blunt was a high school teacher. He was elected to represent Missouri in the Senate in 2010, and successfully ran for reelection in 2016. From 1997-2011, Blunt served as Congressman to the 7th district of Missouri, the state’s most conservative district. This is no surprise, as Blunt has a strong conservative record. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce gave Blunt a 97 percent rating for his pro-business voting record, and he received an “A” rating from the NRA for his commitment to the Second Amendment. Blunt manages to maintain this solid conservative record without subscribing to the firebrand style of individuals like Roy Moore.
I’ve chosen to focus on Blunt as a prime example of Republican leadership because I know the strength of his character from personal experience. I had the pleasure of working for Blunt’s office in 2007 as an intern while he was serving as House Republican Whip. What struck me most about Blunt was his commitment to supporting policies that he truly believed would help people and make the country better, not just taking stances that would help him get reelected.
Blunt’s desire to truly help his fellow Americans is illustrated by his little-known involvement with his local prison ministry in Missouri which is how I came to hear about Roy Blunt from my Aunt who lives in Missouri. Blunt has never felt the need to publicize this about himself; Jesus said whatever you do for the least of these you do it for me and the thing that struck me the most about this is that this isn’t something that politically would win him a lot of points. Many of these people weren’t violent criminals, but had simply made bad choices because they were addicted to drugs and had been arrested multiple times. Attitudes towards those who struggle with addiction has changed but Senator Blunt cared about these people and did something about it long before it was political advantageous. When I worked there I never heard the staff say one negative thing about the congressman and when I told other Capitol Hill staffers I worked for Roy Blunt I only ever heard how lucky I was to work for someone like Roy Blunt. The older I get the more I realize how valuable a good reputation is and how quickly it can be lost. Senator Blunt may not be the first person you see on Twitter, but he has been instrumental in enacting policy changes which has benefited every single person reading this article now. He has a tremendous amount of power but he doesn’t use it simply to advance his own interest but to make the lives of the people of Missouri and the United States Better.
Though no doubt a solid conservative, Blunt has consistently shown that he is more committed to enacting actual change than choosing sides in inter-party disputes. Blunt has no need to prove himself as a loyal and determined conservative; his record does that for him. When interviewed about his stance on the Trump-Corker feud, Blunt remarked, “I think both these men have really big jobs to do and I think they both should focus on them instead of talking about each other.”
This comment hones in on a central issue in the Republican Party today — conflicts that distract Republican leaders from the task at hand. Blunt sees that choosing a side and further dividing the party is not the answer. Firebrands like Bannon, on the other hand, choose disloyalty and pot-stirring as tools of furthering their own agendas. The Bannons and Moores of the GOP are not leaders; leaders exhibit level-headedness, and serve the people, not themselves. Leaders like Roy Blunt are proof that we still have an amazing group of leaders in the Republican Party, and he is an example both for voters, and his fellow politicians, of what a true leader ought to be.
Special thanks to Katherine Pickle, my law clerk who attends Emory School of Law in Atlanta, Georgia and to Daniel Bruce, a member my chief consultant and contributor to Rouser News, for their help researching, writing, and editing this article.
This article first appeared in my column on Newsmax.
Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore.