By Nancy Thorner -
Heritage Foundation's ongoing Presidents' Tour stopped at the Chicago Hilton Tuesday night, when the 40-year old organization's outgoing president Edwin J. Feulner introduced their President-elect Senator Jim DeMint to over 500 Chicago area supporters.
Founded in 1973, The Heritage Foundation has focused on generating ideas that can advance conservative policies and build national support for those ideas so our leaders will translate them into public policy. Since 1977 The Heritage Foundation has been capably and effectively led by Mr. Feulner, its third president. Three years ago Edwin Feulner told his board that he would be stepping down from his post in April of 2013, whereupon a search for his replacement was conducted. That replacement was conservative Republican Senator Jim DeMInt who resigned his Senate seat in South Carolina to take over the helm of The Heritage Foundation from Feulner. It was under Edwin Feulner's direction that policy-making was transformed in Washington, D.C., leading the way for The Heritage Foundation to become the most influential conservative think tank in the nation.
Heritage's Board of Trustees is confident Jim Demint is the right person to succeed Feulner, as Demint has served as the conservative movement's standard bearer in the Senate. As an experienced lawmakers DeMint fully understands how Washington works while he strongly opposes much of what Washington does. He is also an innovator who has helped elect many of today's younger conservative lawmakers, as well as gifted communicator and an accomplished business entrepreneur. Most importantly, Jim DeMint is a man of integrity whose commitment to America's founding principles is unshakable.
Ten Heritage Presidents' tours are scheduled throughout this nation to ensure that Jim DeMint's transition to president will be a smooth one when Edwin Feulner officially retires in a few months. At each of the ten tour location -- Chicago was number two on the Heritage schedule -- conservative attendees will receive the assurance that Jim DeMint will continue the mission of The Heritage Foundation.
Five hundred members and friends of The Heritage Foundation filled the Continental Ballroom at Chicago's Presidents' tour event on a bitterly cold night, in spite of the political makeup of those who govern and direct policy in what is a left leaning state. And they weren't disappointed. There was an element of anticipation as members and friends of The Heritage Foundation checked in and then proceeded to take their seats inside the Continental Ballroom of the Hilton Chicago waiting for the seven o'clock hour.
It was Chief of Staff and Senior Legal Fellow at The Heritage Foundation, Charles "Cully" Simson, who welcomed all to the Chicago event, having arrived in Chicago from New York City earlier in the day where a similar morning presentation was conducted (Event #1) at the Grand Hyatt New York at Grand Central Terminal. The on-going series of ten event tours will conclude in Washington, D.C. on Friday, February 15.
Simson had choice words to say about the reelection of President Obama to his 2nd term of office. Predicted was that Obama's 2nd term will usher in living under a progressive model of government. But alas, according to Simson, panic is already beginning to set in as the realization dawns in the present administration that it isn't possible for government to tax enough or borrow enough to save the progressive model. In the meantime the American people are being asked to give up the Constitution and its "evil provisions", as it is the Constitution that remains an obstacle to our government's progressive agenda.
Expressed by "Cully" Simson, a similar belief was alluded to in later remarks by Edwin Feulner and Jim DeMint: Ideas to change the direction of this nation will not be forthcoming from either the Congress or universities. It is conservative think tanks like The Heritage Foundation that will save America from sinking into the intractable depth of the progressive model.
It was John Von Kannon, a key player in The Heritage Foundation's phenomenal growth in size, expertise and influence for more than 30 years, who ushered Edwin Feulner onto the stage. Led by Feulner for thirty-six years, Heritage has shaped politics with conservative solutions for such critical issues as entitlements, national security, missile defense, health care, welfare reform, immigration, free trade, energy, and the role of the family and religion in society. Three hundred Congressional briefing were presented by Heritage last year to lead the way to an open society where liberty and freedom can remain paramount.
Edwin Feulner presented a snapshot of the progress and accomplishments made during his tenure at The Heritage Foundation from 1977 up until his pending retirement in April. It was Heritage's first "Mandate for Leadership" published in 1980, which served as a how-to manual for the Reagan Administration and set the path for the economic growth that has come to define the Reagan years.
In March a book, "Leading The Way," by Lee Edwards will be available for purchase. Copies can be pre-ordered at LeadingTheWayBook.com. "Leading the Way" tells the story of Ed Feulner's thirty six years at president of The Heritage Foundation and the role he played in transforming the organization into the most influential conservative think tank in the nation.
It was nineteen years ago when The Heritage Foundation produced its first "Index of Economic Freedom" which was released by the Wall Street Journal a few weeks ago. Distressing to Feulner is that this nation has gone from #4 to #10 in the world over the past five years, as indicated by the 2013 Index of Economic Freedom. Hong Kong and Singapore are numbers 1 and 2, respectively. http://www.heritage.org/index/
More recently in 2010 "Action for America," a sister organization to The Heritage Foundation, opened its doors in Washington, D.C. Since then Action for America, CEO Mike Needham, has fought tirelessly to retake our county and build an America where freedom, opportunity, prosperity, and civil society flourish. heritageaction.com Information to join the Heritage Action army to effectively pressure Washington's lawmakers to do the right thing can be found at firstname.lastname@example.org As Edwin Feulner stated: "To make legislators first see the light, they must first feel the heat."
Ed Feulner also spoke proudly about the Heritage internship program where 200 young people are brought each year to Washington, D.C. to work on real issues.
Much awaited were the remarks which followed from president-elect, the Honorable Jim DeMint. With conviction DeMint dispelled the doom and gloom that has so enveloped many conservatives since the November, 2012, elections. He spook of the elections of Senator Marco Rubio in Florida, Senator Pat Toomey in Pa., Representative Ron Paul in Texas, Senator Ron Johnson in Wisconsin, Representative Jeff Flake of Arizona, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, and Deb Fisher from Nebraska, all conservatives, as being a positive sign. Additionally Republicans are also winning at the state level with governorships
DeMint spoke of the big decision it was for him to leave the Senate to head The Heritage Foundation, but he did so after rationalizing that nothing good was to come out of Washington and that he could better serve the people by heading The Heritage Foundation. Reading information about The Heritage Foundation first prompted DeMint to first run for public office, having served six years in the House before being elected to the Senate. In both his House and Senate races he ran on the same conservative issues as espoused by The Heritage Foundation. It frustrates DeMint that some of his colleagues have dropped the ball on issues that were important to them when initially elected to office.
DeMint believes that conservatives should take their message directly to the American people and that they would do well, because conservative ideas work. States also blossom when they adopt conservative policies.
Continuing, DeMint informed how in the past conservatives trusted the Republican Party to take their ideas and embrace them, but that process has not worked. DeMint recommended that we (conservatives) must stop standing on the outside hoping for good results, but that we must instead take our message directly to the American people. Ideas that work in one states are often transferred to another state. Right to work started in Indiana, spread to Wisconsin, and recently took hold in Michigan. Now there are twenty right to work states.
In going around the country as a senator fielding candidates to run for office, the most common complaint heard by DeMint from those he met along the way was that Republicans weren't willing to fight.
Emphasized by DeMint was that it is important to work within our own states to effect change at all levels of government and not wait for politicians to come up with ideas and enlightenment, as government seldom comes up with workable or sensible solutions to problems.
A question and answer period followed.