2011 was a year of political stalemate, following Republicans' victories in the 2010 election. Consequently there isn't as clear a choice for conservative of the year as in some past years. In Congress, conservatives including Paul Ryan in the House (Human Events' choice for Conservative of the Year) and Rand Paul in the senate fought good, but mostly losing fights. 2009 winner Glenn Beck continued his efforts with a rally in Israel and launching an internet television network.
2011 was also the year of the mob. There were protests and riots in the Middle East and Egypt. There were leftist rallies in Wisconsin and the Occupy Wall Street movement in Manhattan and across the country. No one called this better than Ann Coulter, whose new book Demonic explains the liberal mob.
In the states, many conservatives fought the good fight. Arizona Senate Majority Leader Russel Pearce fought the good fight on immigration, gun rights, and more, and was recalled for his efforts. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie continued his efforts to reform that state. All of the preceding deserve honorable mentions.
But the best embodiment of these trends is Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. Walker proposed reasonable reforms to the budget process and monopoly (collective) bargaining of some government employees. In response, Wisconsin leftists generated a firestorm of outrage. The democrat state senators fled the state, attempting to stop the bill from passing. Mobs invaded the state capital for weeks. But Walker and legislative Republicans refused to give in. They stood their ground and passed the bill anyways.
The issue didn't end there. Democrats tried to snag a state supreme court seat that would have given them the majority, but Republican David Prosser held them off. Leftists tried to recall enough state senators to take a majority of the state senate, but that effort was beaten back, with democrats winning only two seats under exceptional circumstances.
The issue still isn't over, as leftists are organizing to recall Walker in 2012. But Walker has continued to calmly stand his ground and argue for the merits of his reforms. His approval ratings have improved, and he stands a good chance of beating the recall.
Budget reform is all the Wisconsin Republicans accomplished. They also made Wisconsin the 41st state with the right to carry a concealed weapon. They strengthened self-defense laws. They passed a voter ID law to protect elections.
For standing up for conservative principles against the worst the left had to offer, Scott Walker is the 2011 conservative of the year.
Previous winners (including retroactive):
2010: Jim DeMint
2009: Glenn Beck
2008: Sarah Palin
2007: Ron Paul
2006: Jerome Corsi
2005: Tom Tancredo
2004: John O'Neill
2003: Roy Moore
2002: John Ashcroft
2001: George W. Bush
2000: William Rehnquist