Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana has proven himself to be that increasingly rare breed in Washington, a Republican willing to stand up for what he believes in. He was one of the few Republicans to support the DREAM Act, repudiating a deal Republican senators struck at the beginning of the Congress to always support their leadership on procedural votes.
Yesterday, Lugar’s long-term expertise in foreign affairs, and on the issues of nuclear weapons and proliferation specifically, provided sufficient intellectual justification (and political cover) for several Republicans to support the START Treaty which was happily ratified.
In the current political climate, these acts of political courage not only required Lugar to stand up to his party’s leadership, it required that he risk angering the Tea Party movement which has shown its ability to knock of veteran Washington lawmakers in favor of extremist candidates in GOP primaries. (Think Delaware, Alaska and Utah.) As mentioned yesterday, the Tea Party has not spoken out much on foreign affairs, but its candidates have been strongly anti-immigrant, making Lugar’s support for the DREAM Act all the more admirable.