Last week, Heritage Foundation President, Jim DeMint and Heritage Action for America Chief Executive Officer, Michael Needham led a discussion at Chicago’s Ritz Carlton. Their topic was “A Bold Agenda for a Better America: Taking on the 114th Congress”, as a way to deliver opportunity to all, but favoritism to none.
Jim DeMInt, former South Carolina U.S. Senator, is entering his third year of running The Heritage Foundation. He painted conservatives as believers of the values and ideas that motivated our Founding Fathers, that these values and ideals are worth conserving, and that solutions must be consistent with those ideal and values.
A bold agenda must be put forth to keep America safe and secure, he said. One where there are choices in education and health care; where taxes are fair and flat to unleash growth; where all Americans have the opportunity to go as far as their talents and hard work will take them in pursuit of the American Dream; and where government concentrates on its core functions, recognizes its limits, and treats every one equally, showing favoritism to none.
Conservatives do have solutions for the challenges this nation faces, but they must explain them, fight for them, and then see them through. Opposing Obama’s policies are not enough. Government is already too powerful and burdensome for most Americans, even as it works well for the special interests who are protected in return for doing its bidding. Good alternatives must be presented to energize and excite the American people.
Reminiscent of Ronald Reagan, Jim DeMint asked “What kind of city do we want all Americans to wake up in?” It must be full of opportunity to work, learn, volunteer, and worship, This includes school choice,w energy independence, an economy that will create millions of jobs, health care that the American people can afford and keep – all created in an atmosphere where government stays within its means. Creating an America that works should not be a matter of partisan politics. Instead it requires an understanding of those ideals that made this nation acceptable in the first place.
DeMint reminded his audience that good things are happening at the state level where Republican governors are doing bold things. Meanwhile, the Left is dividing this country into different groups by pitting one group against another in what was characterized as class warfare. wMost people want a better life and more opportunity. For this to happen the American people must be educated to understand the mission of the Left and where it wants to take this nation. The Left revels in announcing what is wrong with America instead of why we should love America. It is disturbing that politics follows culture, which has steadily declined since prayer was removed from the public schools. Candidates must be recruited who embrace the ideals that made this nation great, they must run on them, and then govern accordingly. If they renege on their campaign promises, their feet must be held to the fire.
The Heritage Foundation is actively promoting its message within the environs of Washington, D.C. This is where the money and power is. But the agenda must also be set outside of Washington, D.C. To reach people across Americans Heritage Action for America was founded in 2010 as a sister organization to the 40-year-old Heritage Foundation. Together they offer a one-two punch of scholarly research and grassroots activism.
Mark Needham serves as Chief Executive of Heritage Action. Heritage Action has more than 400,000 citizen activists nationwide to hold lawmakers accountable in their home districts and in Washington, D.C. In the November mid-term elections, Heritage Action had more trained sentinels on the ground than did the Obama camp. There are weekly strategy calls to alert Heritage Action Sentinels on the issues U.S. House and the Senate members will be dealing with on the floor of their respective chambers. Following the call, an e-mail summary of the call is shared with citizen activists with suggested recommendations on how to approach your legislator, along with taking points. Check Heritage Action for America is you wish to become active in this fine organization.
Mr.Needham related how the American people perceive their lives to be. Four out of five Americans believe life is tough. It’s getting tougher and no one cares. Nor does the government care about the fears and concerns of the American people. Americans subsequently believe that politics is a dirty game, such as portrayed in TV shows they watch like “House of Cards,” “Scandal” on ABC, and the “Daily Show. Given what these shows portend, is it any wonder why Americans perceive politics to be all about lying and stealing and not about solving problems? Concerns also exist over the medium income remaining at stagnant at $52,000, that beef is reaching $4.00 a pound, that our education system is failing, and that housing and the cost for everything has gone up.
People do have a right to feel unheard in Washington, D.C. According to Needham, ideas must be presented that speak to the anxieties of the American people and likewise inspire. There must be a tax code that works. Opportunities must be offered to all, with favoritism to none. It was surprising to hear Needham say that 57% of Hispanics voted for Romney in 2012, in that Republicans are now telling us that unless we are nice to Hispanics Republicans will never again win the White House.
Question from audience members to DeMint and Needham addressed various concerns:
- Upper most was the expressed disillusionment with members of the Republican Party over the $1.1 trillion “cromnibus bill” (passed by 219-206 in the House and a closure vote of 77-19 in the Senate), in spite of the mid-term election in which a majority of Americans voted to checkmate President Obama’s agenda. The election outcome was basically dismissed by most U.S. House and Senate candidates, including all six Illinois Republican congressmen andSenator Mark Kirk. The Republican leadership didn’t want a spending bill fight for fear of getting blamed for a government shutdown. The same Republicans also wanted to get the bill off the floor. A continuing resolution would have allowed Republicans to deal with the bill when they had control of both houses in January. The bill, now signed by President Obama, hands over control of the budget to Democrats for almost half of their time in office (until Sept., 2015) funding most of the government, including Obamacare, while funding for amnesty, under the Department of Homeland Security, will run through February 27.
- Although it is Democrats who talk about helping the middle class, easy economics lesson can be taught to middle class working people. Telling stories is a good way to reach the middle class. Only look at North Dakota to see what is happening. Workers at McDonald’s start at $15.00 an hour! People aren’t stupid, but they don’t have the time to check out details for making their lives better. It would be of immeasurable value to teach economics to high school students.
- Stressed was that the solution to creating good government is in the states, not in Washington, D.C. The Daily Signal, started this past May is The Heritage Foundation news site. It aims at reporting straight news (straight-down-the-middle journalism) with a conservative bent, as a means to force the mainstream media to stop slanting the news. The Daily Signal shares stories of success with millions of Americans
- This nation is still a Christian country, although the Left is intent on pushing Secularism. Heritage is a big advocate of Religious Freedom.Hobby Lobby won its government battle with the help of The Heritage Foundation in June of this year. The Left uses the force of government to push faith or religion. Conservatives must convince the American people that we are not trying to push our religious faith through government, but instead are fighting to protect and preserve religious freedom.
- Expressed was concern that despite the Republican establishment controlling both the U.S. Senate and the House, the establishment might continue with its “broken window strategy” of not fighting back. The problem is that many Republicans fall into the big spending category. The desire isn’t there to repeal Obamacare, despite campaign rhetoric to follow through with the repeal. They further view amnesty for Illegal immigrants as a good thing, beholden as they are to the Chamber of Commerce and to those Republicans who hold the big money bags. Unfortunately the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, and the new House Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, are in this category.
Will this nation remain a viable one with standing?
We are still a center-right country. The Left has had its way for 100 years trying to make the sale, but their product has failed. It is thought that conservatives have a better chance to get their message out than at any other time in history. The right person with the right ideas will win in 2016. The Conservative agenda must be set down and fought for outside of Washington, D.C. It does not bode well that the Republican establishment is already in line behind Republicans holding the big money bags and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, both of whom are excited over Jeb Bush’s facebook announcement several days ago to form a presidential committee. In the interim, Jeb Bush cites his firm endorsements of Common Core and citizenship for illegal aliens, two issues that do not play well with the conservative Republican base.
This nation’s present debt of $18 trillion cannot be allowed to grow even larger. It must be reined in, lest it become a heavy burden upon future generations of Americans. At what point does such a horrendous, unchecked debt become unsustainable for this nation to continue to exist, or even exist at all, as a viable nation with any standing?
[Originally published at Illinois Review]