“Freedom Triumphant” was the theme of The Heartland Institute’s 30th Anniversary Benefit Dinner on Friday, Sept. 12, at The Cotillion in Palatine, Illinois. Some 500 people were in attendance.
Most fitting is that the evening began with a video reminding those in attendance of some of the events in politics, popular culture, and freedom that took place in 1984 when Ronald Reagan was reelected in a landslide, the same year Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” album was released. The video ended with what has become a momentous event in history: the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
A featured keynote speaker was Michelle Malkin, a New York Times best-selling author, nationally syndicated columnist, wildly successful digital entrepreneur, and Tea Party champion. Malkin was joined at Heartland’s 30th Anniversary Gala by Master of Ceremonies, former congressman Joe Walsh, the greatest champion the Tea Party ever had in Washington, when representing the 8th District of Illinois from 2011 – 2013. Walsh’s enthusiasm for liberty is shared every weekday from 5 to 8 p.m. in Chicago on his radio talk show on AM 560 The Answer.
The recipient of the 2014 Heartland Liberty Prize was M. Stanton Evans, a founder of the modern conservative movement along with Bill Buckley. As a proponent of “fusionism,” Evans believed that a love of freedom should unite conservatives and libertarians regardless of their disagreements. Because of poor health Evans was unable to attend. In his absence, Joseph A. Morris and Jameson Campaigne presented the tribute to the honoree. Morris and Campaigne told of the gift of wit displayed by Evans, and of his perception of “liberty as an organized outgrowth of civilization.”
Heartland Institute President Joseph Bast set the tone for the evening. In talking about Heartland and its purpose since its inception its founding in 1984 by Dave Padden, Bast stressed how ideas do matter in the history of nations. Regarding freedom, “Freedom wants for defenders who often end up as martyrs.” Moreover, “defenders are outnumbered by their foes.”
Freedom is what The Heartland Institute is all about. With a full time staff of 29 (21 working in the Chicago office), there are approximately 235 academics and professional economists participating in the peer-review process and more than 160 elected officials who serve on its Legislative Forum. The Heartland Institute only rarely lobbies for or against pending legislation, but through Heartland’s government relations staff more than 1.2 million contacts with elected officials were made in 2013. Through this education process, Joe Bast credits Heartland for why there is no carbon tax or cap-and-trade program in the U.S.
Walsh, calling himself a Tea Party conservative, wasted no time, nor did he disappoint his audience, employing his usual enthusiasm and energy when he shouted: WE HAVE A COUNTRY TO SAVE! Admitting that he was just a “warmup act for one of the top warriors we have for freedom in this country,” Walsh also revealed that he had worked at Heartland years ago “at the knees of Joe and Diane Bast.”
Freedom was uppermost in Walsh’s thoughts when he asked a series of three questions, all of which were greeted with a resounding “yes”.
1. Do you believe the federal government is too big?
2. Do you believe the state and local governments should have more power than the federal government?
3. Do you believe in the benefits of the free market system?
In explaining what drives Walsh, why he gets so worked up, he said: “We’re losing it.” And he was talking about the country. Walsh takes on both Democrats and Republicans when legislators on either side choose to ignore the type of government our Founding Fathers bequeathed to us. When in Congress, Joe Walsh made lots of promises which he kept, a rarity among politicians. In promising a free and open government, Walsh held 334 town meetings open to the public, far exceeding any other legislator.
Using a dollar bill to address his point that no one can make the case that this is a free country, Walsh removed a dollar bill from his wallet.“When the government takes 40 cents of every dollar, and we no longer get to keep most of it,” he said, “we are no longer free.” When in Congress, most of the calls Walsh received were from small businessmen and -women who said they were done with Illinois.
Walsh’s relationship with House Speaker John Boehner wasn’t the greatest, he said. Boehner always addressed the congressman simply as “Walsh.” Once when Boehner was passing by Walsh’s desk, Boehner placed his hands on his shoulders asking him, “Why did you vote against my debt ceiling bill again?” To which Walsh replied, “I would never vote for anything that increased the size of government.”
Walsh said his role in life is to wake people up, and he implored the audience to make it their mission, too. But even if we start now, Walsh cautioned, we won’t be able to win back what this nation has lost during the course of our lifetime.
In introducing Malkin, Walsh spoke of her as “a hero to many patriot conservatives in Congress,” which, Walsh admitted, was a lonely place to be given his experience as a conservative and Tea Party Republican.
Malkin was greeted warmly and enthusiastically in keeping with her reputation and status as an undisputed hero of freedom. Recalling Walsh’s remark of what drives him, Malkin described her life as an open book, and said he she considered it a pleasure to help The Heartland Institute celebrate its 30th anniversary.
Malkin’s parents came to America from the Philippines in 1976 to pursue the American dream and to provide a better education for their two children. The rule of law was respected. A legal fee had to be paid and learning English was required. Accordingly, Malkin defines herself not as a hyphenated American but as simply an American. For over two decades Malkin has been a proud out-of-the-closet conservative. It was early on that she realized the need to fight back, understanding that freedom cannot be taken for granted. The Heartland Institute was summarily described by Michelle as an important think tank because it represents “a catalyst for action that encourages restoration, not transformation.”
Common Core was at the top of Malkin’s concerns, having two children of her own: a boy now 10, and a girl 14. “Not too many years ago eyes glazed over when Common Core was mentioned,” Malkin said. She went on to praise Heartland Institute Research Fellow Joy Pullmann, who was seated at the same table I was. Pullmann, Malkin said, is “a one-woman warrior against Common Core.” According to Malkin, whether called Common Core, No Child Left Behind, Outcome Ed, or Goals 2000, underlying all is “fed ed” – a way to obtain power and cash. All these programs make children into guinea pigs for the state.
Malkin described the teaching of math as an abomination, naming the University of Chicago Education Department as the center of many education fads. A Texas school board in 2007, she said, decided it would drop the way math was being taught when children were asked these questions on everyday math worksheets:
A. If math were a color, it would be ____, because ____,
B. If it were a food, it would be ____, because ____,
C. If it were weather, it would be ____, because ____.
Indicating that it’s not easy to be a squeaky wheel, Malkin related a situation she faced when her daughter was much younger. Malkin noticed that her daughter, when attending an all-girls school, was being taught the same thing over and over again, even when she advanced to the next grade. Malkin was told by her daughter’s teacher that this strategy was called spiraling, where leaning is spread out over time rather than being concentrated in shorter periods, a strategy devised by the University of Chicago Education Department. The teacher further informed Malkin that this strategy would help girls have more self esteem in math. To which she replied, “This is not a football game where strategy is important. It is math where getting the right answer is the important thing.”
The experience with her daughter prompted Malkin to write a column in 2007, “Everyday Math,” about the ineffectiveness of teaching math, where upon she was called into the office of her daughter’s principal. To Malkin’s surprise, with the principal was a legal counsel representative. Malkin was bluntly told that if she didn’t refrain from writing about the way math was being taught, her daughter would be kicked out of school.
Malkin stated that the common theme in educational policy is that of central planning and self-appointed experts who know better than we do. It is only the progressive Left that gets to decide who counts as an expert. If you are right-minded you are just a “blogger,” as Malkin said Fox News commentator Juan Williams once labeled her to dismiss her arguments in a debate. It is repulsive, Malkin said, that children are but cogs in the machine and some expert is deciding what their goals should be.
Malkin further expounded upon how radical leftist Bill Ayers, Barack Obama’s partner in education “reform” in the 1990s, traveled to Venezuela to praise the budding system of socialist education in that country. A further revelation by Ms. Malkin was how the National Education Association in 2009 made a glowing assessment of radical socialist community organizer Saul Alinksy, recommending that teachers read Alinsky’s 1971 book, “Rules for Radicals.”
Common Core is in keeping with the cradle-to-grave fantasy expressed in an Obama campaign via a propaganda slideshow called “The Life of Julia.” It was intended to illustrate how the Obama administration’s policies will give government help to a young woman as she is educated, works, starts a family and retires.
So many wealthy individuals and their foundations have been fooled by Common Core and are pushing it – Bill Gates and George Soros are two, but also on board are the National Chamber of Commerce, Jeb Bush, and Mike Huckabee. All should know better and must wake up! Fed ed (Common Core), by design, gives students a liberal interpretation of this nation’s history – stressing that America is bad and doesn’t deserve to be ranked above any other nation. Malkin warned that even if children are sent to a Christian school or home schooled, they may not be immune from Common Core.
Malkin is so thankful she can make a living in America by running off her mouth. This keeps her a happy warrior – even if, she said, “we are living in a culture of corruption.” Whether talking about Democrats or Republicans, like barnacles they become stuck to the side of the U.S. government, where they pander to people who want to destroy the American Dream.
In closing, Malkin recounted how she had had the opportunity to go to Iraq in 2007, traveling with a male colleague to cover the surge in Baghdad. This experience was a jarring one for her. Her final words: “We are so lucky and should not take for granted that we live in the greatest country on the planet. Now we must fight to preserve it. May God Bless America!”