When I first heard that Jim DeMint was resigning his Senate seat in order to take charge at The Heritage Foundation, I thought “Oh No! Just when we most need conservatives in the Senate, we’re losing another!”
But this was in the aftermath of Obama’s reelection and since then, much of the conservative world seems to have concluded that we’ve got to do more than “drag some finger-in-the-windy squish with an R after his name across the finish line every other November” as Mark Steyn put it.
The battle for conservatism must be fought on every front: the media, popular culture, the academy, and the workplace. Both The Heritage Foundation and Heritage Action (its lobbying arm) are in the vanguard of our battle.
I had the pleasure of attending The President’s Tour of The Heritage Foundation on its stop in Los Angeles. After remarks by Edwin Feulner, Heritage’s president since its founding in 1973, Senator Jim DeMint took the stage to present his vision for The Heritage Foundation and how he intends to lead it into the future.
He began by reminding us of some victories, and how the political landscape has changed in the past few years. We’ve elected Conservatives in places where it seemed they couldn’t be elected—Florida, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, after successful primary challenges to establishment Republicans. There was Pat Toomey against Arlen Specter and Marco Rubio against Charlie Crist.
Sen. DeMint recalled his own entry into politics, with the reporters calling him “the most low-voltage candidate,” and his retort: “It’s not the volts that get you, it’s the amps.” He credited The Heritage Foundation with providing the “intellectual muscle” for conservative ideas in general, some of which he advanced during his time in the House and the Senate.
He talked about his disappointment in finding that many Senate Republicans seemed just as interested in earmarks and spending as Senate Democrats. He complimented Tea Partiers with their simple message of “stop spending, stop running up our debt, and get back to the Constitution.”
The Heritage Foundation began as a research and policy institute, created to educate lawmakers, “But,” said DeMint, “unless we reach the . . . customers, . . . the voters, unless we win the hearts and minds of the American people, we’re not going to convince the lawmakers.”
DeMint cited conservative policies such as school choice and having the right to work without joining a union resulting in individual successes.
“We’re going to take every success story, with the names and the faces and the lives that have been changed, and get that on film . . . so people can see the real lives that are changed,” DeMint said. “Our intent is to build an America where freedom, opportunity, and prosperity flourish in civil society.”
“If we stand with you,” he said, “I think that’s going to inspire a nation to take back their country and to push their lawmakers in Washington and state capitols to adopt those ideas that are no longer theory—they work.”
Written by Cynthia Toordeman
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