No politician had a greater impact on the past year than freshman U.S. Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzPoll: Cruz leads O'Rourke by 7 points Freedom Caucus bruised but unbowed in GOP primary fights Five races to watch in the Texas runoffs MORE (R-Texas). Cruz came from the Lone Star State not owing the D.C. political establishment anything, after he beat the chosen replacement for Kay Bailey Hutchison in an underfunded, grassroots driven Republican primary election.

Using his historic first speech on the Senate floor to support Kentucky Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulGOP Senate primary heats up in Montana Sarah Sanders: ‘Democrats are losing their war against women in the Trump administration’ Kentucky Dems look to vault themselves in deep-red district MORE’s quest to force the Obama administration to agree not to use drones to kill Americans on American soil, Cruz showed he would sacrifice personal glory for the cause of liberty. By helping shine a constitutional light on the Justice Department’s unwillingness to unequivocally declare that the federal government cannot just send a missile through the windshield of American citizens driving down I-95, Cruz chose to take his first stand on a seemingly esoteric, but important, constitutional issue.

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Of course, Cruz made his biggest mark when he and fellow freshman Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeGOP Senate primary heats up in Montana Senate GOP urges Trump administration to work closely with Congress on NAFTA Senate panel advances Trump's CIA nominee MORE (R-Utah) led a last-ditch national grassroots effort to defund ObamaCare before the law went into effect fully. Imagine how many Senate Democrats wish right now that they had heeded Cruz's entreaties and agreed to delaying or defunding it for one year. Now, they are stuck with the law and all its consequences.

Since the short federal government shutdown, Americans are coming to the conclusion that ObamaCare was sold through a series of lies, and they are not happy. Fear of losing coverage, fear of significantly increased healthcare costs and fear of losing the doctor/patient relationship have become the table topic in households.

These households know that Republicans, because of Cruz and Lee, did everything possible to protect America from the impact of ObamaCare.

Incredibly, the handwringers in the Republican Party will be the beneficiaries of Cruz’s determination, intelligence and guts. Yet those same elected and unelected D.C. operatives will never forgive the Texas senator for showing their half-hearted opposition to the law for what it was and forcing the issue.

It is this willingness to use whatever power he is entrusted with to protect Americans from the ravages of big government that has made Cruz a hero among thinking outside the Beltway Republicans.

It is this exact same quality that has made him an anathema to inside the Beltway Republicans, who are intimidated by his unique combination of intelligence, education and fierce determination to do what is right, regardless of which power broker’s cage gets rattled.

And it is this quality that the establishment Republican class is mounting a campaign to defeat in 2014 primary elections. Fearing a wave class of new Republicans emboldened by Cruz’s enthusiasm and integrity in fighting for personal liberty, their limited-government veneer has been cast away.

Cruz created a new plum line for those who claim to carry the limited government mantle, and in one short year he has done more to change the landscape of American politics than most of the careerists do in a lifetime. That is why he is 2013 Person of the Year.

Manning (@rmanning957) is vice president of public policy and communications for Americans for Limited Government.