South Carolina Republican U.S. Senator Jim Damint surprised Washington by announcing he's leaving the Senate to become the President of the Heritage Foundation.
For those not familiar with Heritage, it's one of the leading conservative Washington D.C. think tanks.
I was watching CNN's Wolf Blitzer interview Demint on his decision and Blitzer was clearly stunned that a sitting U.S. Senator would choose to go to a think tank.
But it didn't surprise me.
This move nicely illustrates the growing power of thought leadership. As Demint explains in an earlier interview on CNN:
After this last election it's apparent that we need to do more as conservatives to convince Americans that our ideas and our policies are going to make their lives better. The Heritage Foundation is the premier think tank research organization - the premier idea group for the conservative movement. This will give me the opportunity to help take our case to the American people and to translate our policies into real ideas.
In other words, Demint thinks he can get more done and create more change through thought leadership than he can by being a powerful, sitting U.S. senator.
A pretty clear signal on the growing importance of thought leadership.