Opinion / Politics

2021 Profiles in Political Courage

AMAC Exclusive – By Eleanor Vaughn


There’s no denying that 2021 has been a particularly tumultuous year. Many days, it seemed as if rage and radicalism dominated our national discourse. However, despite the chaos, many people—both public figures and private citizens—have managed to keep their heads on properly. Across the country and the political spectrum, people have defended their deeply held principles, often risking their careers and facing ridicule and hatred. Standing up to the far left in 2021 took courage. Here are some of the most courageous examples of individuals from the past year who reminded us that all what it takes to defend freedom and liberty.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis

Ron DeSantis is perhaps the most notable of several Republican governors who stood up to the left on the issue of COVID restrictions, especially lockdowns. He and several others kept their states open – for business, for education, and for living – while protecting the vulnerable and ensuring that hospitals were not overrun. They have challenged the idea that lockdowns are a cure-all and recognized that there are real economic, educational, and mental health costs to shutting everything down and that, at some point, these costs outweigh the benefits. This common-sense approach has allowed Florida to thrive and perform well against COVID, while liberal states are still lagging behind in their recovery – both from the virus and the pandemic-induced lockdown.

Despite the liberal media’s best attempts to cancel him, labeling him a “murderer” and “anti-science,” the results in Florida speak for themselves, and the Sunshine State has helped change the national and global conversation about lockdowns.

Virginia Lieutenant Governor-elect Winsome Sears

Winsome Sears has been making history her entire political career and continued to do so in 2021 when she became the first black woman to be elected Lieutenant Governor of Virginia. A Jamaican immigrant, veteran, and small-business owner, Sears ran on the platform that education is the path to opportunity for all Virginians. Despite a slew of vicious attacks hurled at Sears from the liberal media, she remained focused on her goal: helping Virginians live better lives. Her election is truly historic and a good reminder to the rest of the country that demographics don’t determine politics, and common sense still carries the day.

West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin

It’s not just conservatives who have stood up to the left this year. Among Democrats, Senator Joe Manchin may be the most obvious example of someone displaying some common sense and a clear head. The moderate Democrat has made headlines multiple times this year for objecting to the Biden administration’s more radical proposals, most recently the so-called “Build Back Better Act,” which amounted to little more than a socialist wish list. Manchin has insisted that his colleagues in the Democratic Party find actual sources of funding for their progressive pipe dreams, particularly as spiraling inflation is decimating the finances of hard-working Americans. Despite immense pressure from the media, the White House, and other Congressional Democrats, Manchin has stood firm against the worst inclinations of the radical left.

Education Warrior Asra Nomani

Asra Nomani is a Virginian who took a stand for education and rooting out racist ideologies in school classrooms. As Vice President for Strategy and Investigations at Parents Defending Education and as co-founder of Coalition for TJ, Nomani has spent 2021 advocating for equality in education, especially at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. The Northern Virginia school, widely considered among the best in the country, made news this year when administrators announced they were considering a new, race-conscious admission system. This system would actively reduce the number of Asian-American students, who currently make up around 70% of TJ’s student body. Nomani and other Asian parents in Northern Virginia, many of whom moved to this area so their children could attend these highly-ranked schools, protested the change and are fighting to ensure that race plays no role in selecting which students are afforded educational opportunity.

Commentator and Author Bari Weiss

Bari Weiss, who may be best known for her very public resignation from the New York Times last year, spent the year challenging progressivism. Importantly, she didn’t just stand up to the left in one dramatic moment but did so day by day, putting in the hard intellectual work to expose the inherent flaws in the far left’s worldview. Weiss moved over to Substack, an independent platform where readers can subscribe to individual journalists. She is part of a growing crowd of ex-mainstream journalists dissatisfied with editors and publications that prioritize ideology over truth. Weiss helped highlight perspectives and stories that were being ignored or misrepresented by mainstream sources. She often used her platform to exhibit others’ work, letting them speak to her audience in their own words. In doing so, she is helping pave the way for a new model of journalism that cuts out the middleman and more directly democratizes information for all.

Comedian Dave Chapelle (and Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos)

The past few years have been difficult for entertainers, as rapidly shifting social rules dictated by progressive internet mobs have seen many of them deemed “problematic” or “canceled.”  Many have had to issue apologies. But this year, stand-up comedian Dave Chappelle refused. His most recent comedy special, “The Closer,” contained jokes about sensitive issues like transgenderism which (naturally) sparked outrage. Despite several transgender entertainers expressing their support for Chappelle, Netflix employees staged a walkout, and several Hollywood news sources derided Chapelle as “transphobic.”

However, Chappelle stood by his comedic remarks, reaffirming his position rather than caving to social pressure. Perhaps even more surprisingly, Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos did as well, refusing to pull the special off the platform. While neither Chappelle nor Sarandos is likely to be spotted at a local GOP meeting, both men refused to be bullied by the far left.

Wisconsin Circuit Court Judge Bruce Schroder

Judge Bruce Schroder was thrust into the spotlight when he presided over the Kyle Rittenhouse trial earlier this year. Despite the enormous media firestorm surrounding the trial, he worked hard to ensure that his courtroom would be a place of justice, not appeasement. He evicted reporters who tried to influence the jury and didn’t allow the prosecution to break legal procedure in order to make Rittenhouse look guilty. He was not intimidated by his role in the center of an explosive national controversy. Instead, he did his job, as it was supposed to be done.


What these people have done is not always showy. Much of it has involved simply doing their job and staying calm in the face of crisis. But in a crisis, staying calm is more than just remarkable—it is a sign of hope for everybody else. Hope, first of all, that we are not alone. That somebody, anybody, will stand up to the rising tide of radicalism that threatens to sweep away so much of our history and our culture. But also hope that people can change their minds. Not all of the above individuals are conservatives. But they have all in some way recognized the danger of unchecked extremism and decided to take a stand. 

Yes, 2021 has been a year of outrage and upsets. It’s been hard to keep your head. It’s been even harder not to lose heart. But, hidden among the faults and failings have been glimmers of hope and moments of courage. Perhaps in 2022, we will have not just glimmers but lasting victories.

Eleanor Vaughn is a writer living in Virginia.

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6 months ago

I am proud to be able to say Sen. Manchin is my state’s senator. Technically he doesn’t only represent WV but, in cases like the BBB bill, he serves the entire country. Thank you, Joe!

7 months ago

Anyway, thanks for all of you listed. Now, if the rest of the panty-waste Reps would work a little harder, we may be in good shape by 2022;

7 months ago

I’ll nominate Christopher Rufo for exposing CRT and Andy Ngo whose life is under severe threat by Antifa, but hasn’t stopped because of it.

7 months ago

No honest article about political courage can leave out Liz Cheney. Although I rarely agree with her politics, she is standing up for what she believes in. Defending our constitution against those who would love to tear it to shreds.

7 months ago

Fauci is the opposite of science; a fool and we are stuck with him. Why is he still with us? He also screwed up AIDs research. Dr. Rand Paul is a hero.

7 months ago

We have some bright and strong people on the Conservative ranks, America needs them now.
President Trump continues to be a leader for Our Country too and we need him to run again in 2024.
Thanks for an uplifting and informative article!

Larry W.
7 months ago

I was hoping a few other democrats would line up with Manchin but alas the democratic party is doomed to follow a radical agenda until they fire Schumer and Pelosi and elect moderate leaders for their party.

Sean Richman
7 months ago

Good for AMERICA,we need patriotic AMERICANS like these and many more to beat down the anti everything AMERICAN.These weasels will try to sneak in any and every law and program that will reap them and them only rewards that”we the people”and”we the working taxpayer”will end up paying for.Vote them out,way,way out so far that they will never return and we all know who and what the”THEY”are.Not all are elected polilticians as in soros.

Diesel Dave
7 months ago

Kudos to all you’ve mentioned in your article. And as noted by the audience, there are many others as well. Together, we can defeat the liberals and communists who are bent on destroying this great nation. God Bless America!

7 months ago

How about Marjorie Taylor-Green? She is one of two congressmen that actually went to Stockholm, DC jail to actually see how the patriots are being treated. These people’s God given rights have been violated by this regime for close a year now and only two representatives give a hoot about their well-being. I think it’s time this government starts working for the people or we get a new government that will!

J. Farley
7 months ago

I agree that the people mentioned here showed a lot of political courage in their actions, and standing up and doing the right thing, I would like to cast a vote for congresswomen Lauren Boebert of Colorados 3rd Congressional District, she fights for the people of her district.

7 months ago

Rand Paul is noteworthy for repeatedly standing up to and outgunning the most arrogant Anthony Fauci who declared “I am science.”

7 months ago
Reply to  LynnKay

Falsy is the opposite of science

7 months ago

We can’t afford to lose the state of Florida and all DeSantis is accomplishing…I see him as an outstanding choice for President in 2028, following Trump in office…not as a VP. He is a fighter without the negative personality traits of Trump..name calling & constant negative media.. but we are not blind sighted, as some were.. in thinking we are getting a “moderate-Biden”…we know Trump’s faults but we also have seen his ability to do as he promised…we know who he is and who we are getting..and its not the image Biden puts forth. As much as I don’t look forward to another 4 years of media/political negative/fake news..if we all vote in person in the 2022 mid-term elections just maybe we can again get this country on the right path that our forefathers & veterans fought and gave their lives for…no one can sit at home and not vote…and it will be a long difficult job for even Trump to get back to where we were in 2020.

7 months ago
Reply to  mjl

Trump needs to come out to the people and tell them that the Covid “vaccine “ is not a vaccine and it is doing more harm than good. Sure it came out in warp speed, but it is still a medical trial being forced onto everyone and the negative side effects, including death are not being reported to the world

7 months ago

Kentucky attorney general Daniel Cameron should have in this group just look what faced during his time atty gen in Kentucky would list but it better and more rewarding

Philip Hammersley
7 months ago

You should add Mike Lindell, who put his own money into the pot to expose DIMM corruption!

PattyRN MA
7 months ago

Your picks of the year are wisely and soundly chosen. Manchin, however, remains the weak link. He must not, cannot fold on this bill. It will lead to catastrophic consequences. If you have 3 children you will receive $10,800 monthly. My husband earns in the 6 figures and cannot compete with that. I will not wear a mask. I will not show ID to go to a restaurant or bar. I will stay home. I went for the vax and also had covid but I am done. Also no boosters

7 months ago
Reply to  PattyRN MA

I agree with all you wrote! We have to continue to stand our ground and not be led by the nose with these foolish mask mandates and experimental vax. I am done also.

Myrna Wade
7 months ago

Heavy handed, controlling, tyrannical, arrogant official permanent handlers are running Washington right now. I don’t know who will clear them out. Pharisees and Saducees sullied the temple in Jerusalem before Jesus saw what they were doing. How could we allow such people hold the US checkbook? This will not continue.

7 months ago
Reply to  Myrna Wade

We need to get rid of the government that we have and get one that works for the people

7 months ago

In reading the Manchin portion of the story, I still urge great caution about being comfy with Manchin. He is a Democrap in Conservative clothing (at times). If the Democraps get enough propaganda sweetness from the Media, Manchin will hide behind his true Liberal Commie and ride it out. Manchin is like an unmarked two-way highway … better be real careful about judging him according to the lane he drives in. His motto would be whichever lane is best for me is the one I’ll ride in. Remember the witty remark attributed to PT Barnum of Circus fame: You can fool some of the people all the time and all of the people some of the time …. but not all of the people all of the time. Be careful with Manchin that he is not following the “all of the people some of the time” or the “some of the people all of the time” modes.

Carl S Blankemeyer
7 months ago

Great read!

anna hubert
7 months ago

to do your job and fulfill your duty to electorate is not courage its whats expected of you unfortunately we accept now spineless gutless slippery politicians as the norm we are in a mess

R.J. from Arizona
7 months ago
Reply to  anna hubert

I agree Anna but it’s refreshing to see some people can raise their hand, take an oath of office, and stand by that oath.
Far too many go thru the motions and are never held accountable.

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