Ronald Reagan is affectionately known as a “happy warrior” for conservatism. In this highly cynical and hyper-partisan age — the conservative movement needs more of it. Fortunately, DeVan Barbour wrapped himself in that persona with his strong showing in North Carolina’s 13th Congressional District. Furthermore, his good-natured image doesn’t appear to be a political strategy. Some people in the district, and many know him because he’s from there and lives there, seem to say that’s just who he is all the time.

In a crowded field, Barbour ran humorous ads and didn’t get mired in the negative campaign wars. Clearly, it helped him rise above the field of challengers trying to contend with Bo Hines and all the outside money that poured into the race. At any rate, being a jerk is probably a risky move on a limited budget.

“I am extremely proud of our positive message that focused on service to community and country. We can hold our head high knowing that we worked hard and did it the right way,” wrote Barbour in a post-campaign statement on Facebook.

Earlier in the campaign, Barbour declared, “The only endorsements I need are the endorsements of the folks I want to serve.”  

He ran a strong grassroots campaign focusing on the issues. And while most so-called political experts outside the district called it a two-horse race between Trump-backed Bo Hines and Clayton attorney Kelly Daughtry, Barbour emerged as the clear alternative to Hines for conservative voters. Sure, Barbour lost in finishing second but maintained a high level of integrity and seemingly has a bright political future.

In fact, there should be a deep joy that accompanies a conservative worldview. Conservatism is not in rebellion against creation or God’s design for humanity. Conservatives are mostly people of faith who look beyond the here-and-now, refusing to believe that politics is the be-all and end-all to life. Politics can only solve so much because it’s not meant to solve the deeper issues that plague the human condition. Voters should hear that kind of language and worldview from their candidates because it’s the truth.

Unfortunately, as more and more of American life become politicized — often fueled by the left’s revolt against reason and creation itself — the politics of rage intensifies on both sides. While there is a necessity to pushback against the rising illiberal insanity, one can do so without the scorched earth mentality that is increasingly prevalent on social media and cable news. Reagan, long known for his sunny optimism, did more than anybody to turn modern conservatism into a mainstream worldview in American life and culture. His affability made it an even easier sell.

Barbour deserves credit for modeling those values in his campaign in an era where political rage is increasingly rewarded by voters and corporate media’s lust for national division so that viewers stay hooked on the incessant content and controversies.

Let’s be honest, after the disaster of this Biden presidency, Americans are going to need to hope again. Not a hope of mere political retribution or leveling the score, but an agenda that truly offers relief and deliverance from the endless broken promises of big government and all those politicians enabling it.

In the 13th, there is little doubt that Bo Hines received the message that voters over in the 11th sent to Madison Cawthorn by replacing him with state Sen. Chuck Edwards as the Republican nominee. Adults are needed in Washington where the broken but spend-binging federal government is heaping serious economic pain on Americans.

Hines and other potential members of the next North Carolina congressional delegation have an opportunity to follow some of those lessons Barbour exuded during his campaign. Barbour simply said while sharing a popular sermon on social media that “If I have a platform, I’m going to use it for good.”

That’s not only good advice for politics but life as well.

Ray Nothstine is Carolina Journal opinion editor and Second Amendment research fellow at the John Locke Foundation.