What Now, Conservatives? Ed Feulner Remains Optimistic

How discouraged ought to conservatives be in regards to the outcomes of the midterm elections, which returned Republicans to solely a slim majority within the Home and truly gave Democrats yet another seat within the Senate?

It’s OK to be dismayed briefly, however conservatives ought to shake it off and preserve shifting ahead to achieve the general public coverage targets that they imagine are greatest, Edwin J. Feulner, founder and longtime president of The Heritage Basis, says on the newest episode of “The Kevin Roberts Present.”

“What are we going to transmit to the subsequent era?” Feulner asks rhetorically. “We will’t sit again on our laurels and say, ‘Nicely, we did the most effective we might. Time for bourbon on the rocks,’ or one thing like that. That’s not what we’re about as conservatives. That’s not what we ought to be about, anyway.”

“We ought to be on the market saying, ‘Hey, what can we do immediately to make the world a greater place for the concepts we imagine in?’”

The dialog brings collectively Feulner, Heritage’s longest-serving president (No. 3 from 1977 to 2013, but additionally briefly No. 5 in 2017-18), with the main assume tank’s seventh and latest president, Kevin Roberts. (The Each day Sign is Heritage’s multimedia information group.)

The 2 leaders speak about the truth that conservatives lengthy have been outnumbered by the Left’s many initiatives; classes for the motion in adversity and success; the daunting challenge of woke faculties and different establishments; and the time required to attain actual change, together with victories that will not final lengthy.

“I used to be frankly slightly bit depressed” after the midterms, Feulner says, “and any person stated to me, ‘Nicely, Eddie, are we higher off immediately than we have been the day earlier than the election?’ Nicely, yeah, we’re. We’re not as higher off as I needed to be, however we’re higher off. So you bought to take a look at the intense facet and be that congenital optimist.”

One key precedence, Feulner and Roberts agree, is convincing People, particularly the younger, that they shouldn’t rely upon authorities to bail them out, whether or not it’s by canceling scholar mortgage debt or guaranteeing a fundamental earnings.

Plus, Roberts will get Feulner, who stays related to Heritage, to sketch out how advancing conservative concepts turned the calling of his maturity.

Watch or take heed to “The Kevin Roberts Present,” or learn the frivolously edited transcript under.

Kevin Roberts: On this mindset that conservatives have about federalism, that our states are laboratories of democracy, you see actually adjoining to at least one one other your native state, Illinois, and Indiana. Indiana is doing properly by each goal measure. Illinois is, to be well mannered, not doing as properly by each goal measure. What are the origins of that distinction? As a result of that didn’t was once the case.

Ed Feulner: Rising up in Chicago, as I did, however then within the Republican suburbs of Chicago, I noticed the massive metropolis run by the Dems. However again then, you land at O’Hare Airport, was once a giant, huge neon signal: “Welcome to Chicago, town that works. Richard J. Daley, mayor.”

Richard J. Daley, card-carrying liberal Democrat. However by God, his metropolis labored. They picked up the rubbish, they shoveled the snow, the streets have been paved. You go there now, and man, you’re afraid to stroll down the road for worry you’re going to be attacked or shot or mugged or one thing. My sister, the final member of my speedy era, simply fled to Florida final yr: “I’m not placing up with this anymore.”

The essential guidelines simply don’t appear to use anymore in so many locations, whether or not it’s rule of regulation, equal therapy for everyone, which suggests, “Hey, you break the regulation, you’re going to be held accountable for it.” There’s not a $1,000 threshold as there may be in Los Angeles or San Francisco, that, properly, if you happen to’re solely stealing $900 price, you get a free cross.

Man. You need to eliminate small enterprise and middle-size enterprise, that’s a great way to do it. Thanks, Mr. [George] Soros, to your prosecutors and the best way he’s modified a few of these inside establishments.

You ask what the distinction is. You’ve acquired threshold issues like that occuring that we didn’t take note of as conservatives, and we must always. Discuss to a few of our mutual associates who have been, when it comes to motion builders: “Oh, properly, it’s so nice that Heritage has now acquired 45 teams cooperating on our 2025 model of Mandate for Management.” That’s actually nice. What number of teams are on the opposite facet engaged on the identical factor? Possibly 500, 600. We’re outnumbered 10 to 1.

Roberts: Yeah. That’s proper. Throughout the board on each challenge.

Feulner: Every thing. I get excited as a result of I’ve been a robust supporter, as you properly know out of your days at Texas Public Coverage [Foundation], of the state assume tank motion. And yeah, we acquired one in each state. And we’ve even acquired some states with two or three. In order that’s why we acquired 55. Sure, I do know there are solely 50 states, however there are 55 state assume tanks on our facet.

However you go searching and see what the opposite facet has finished when it comes to constructing establishments. And naturally, the best way they construct it, it’s lots simpler as a result of they only go to the federal government and say, “Give us a handout.” Conservatives by and enormous received’t try this. So we have now to exit and persuade our supporters who imagine available in the market, and is that this group actually producing? However constructing these establishments is so essential when it comes to how we modify issues.

Roberts: It takes a very long time. We had this dialog in a special setting earlier immediately, and I assume as a Burkian and somebody who usually taught [Edmund] Burke and Aristotle and political philosophy lessons, I feel when it comes to establishments. Sure, coverage and politics matter, concepts matter. However finally, I feel what we’re residing by way of proper now—I’m looking for your response to this, I don’t assume we’ve talked about this instantly—what I feel we’re residing by way of proper now’s what I name a second American Revolution.

And I’m at all times very clear after I say that publicly that I’m not speaking about bloodshed. It’s the Left that engages in that. Take into consideration the [Black Lives Matter] riots of 2020. That’s bloodshed. What I’m speaking about is what People got down to do within the days, months, and years following the defeat of the British, which was realizing that the establishments they’d, church buildings, financial patterns, industrial relationships, wanted to be at the very least modified and in some instances upended.

So for instance, within the state the place we each stay, Virginia, at that time, the outdated mild church buildings noticed membership actually change to new mild church buildings. Alexander Hamilton, as you already know little doubt, turned an lawyer for lots of British loyalists who needed to remain in the US due to friendships and industrial relationships, and so he helped them navigate again into the world of those new establishments. All of that to say, I feel that’s what conservatives are as much as greater than something within the twenty first century, is recognizing that a lot of, if not most of, our longstanding establishments not serve the values that People used to transmit from one era to the subsequent.

You your self, I feel, have been means forward of most of us in realizing that’s the place quite a lot of conservatives wanted to spend their time and their treasure and their expertise, along with what they have been doing in coverage and politics. What’s your sense of that prognosis, which appears to be certainly one of an rising consensus within the conservative motion?

Feulner: As you already know, I did my bachelor’s diploma within the Rocky Mountain West with the Jesuits.

Roberts: Who generally are Catholic. You knew I needed to say that.

Feulner: Sure. I knew you’ll. Yeah, yeah. The distinction between Martin Luther and the Jesuits, as Martin Luther is aware of, he’s not a Catholic.

Roberts: Nicely finished.

Feulner: Nevertheless it was a Jesuit establishment and admittedly, it form of misplaced its means. So Wyoming Catholic is up there, not as huge as Regis, not as huge a funds, not as many college students, however by gosh, you’re carrying on when it comes to the institutional base that we want.

[Virginia Gov.] Glenn Youngkin invited me to return in and function chairman of his fee on appointing board members to the state universities in Virginia. Wow. I took an excellent onerous look. I accepted the job.

However these are a number of the world’s nice universities: Virginia Tech; the College of Virginia, based by President Thomas Jefferson; William and Mary, the second-oldest college in the US. Woke is in all places. The entire [diversity, equity, and inclusion] enterprise. Proper now, the College of Virginia has one thing like 110 DEI staff.

I requested our counselor from the Lawyer Common’s Workplace within the Commonwealth of Virginia, I stated, “What number of are they required by statute to have?” He stated, “They’re not required to have any by statute. They’re required to have one particular person to ensure they’re in compliance with Title IX. However when it comes to DEI, there’s no requirement in any respect. It’s simply this factor that everyone says.”

And Gov. Youngkin, I feel, says it very properly. He says, “It’s not DEI, it’s DOI. Variety, alternative, and inclusion, not range, fairness, and inclusion.” And that’s an excellent distinction as a result of alternative, we’re all in favor of extra alternative; however fairness implies everyone’s going to prove equal. And it’s not simply equality of alternative, it’s this type of leveling down that’s so objectionable to me as a conservative.

However your level about going again to the Founders—de Tocqueville had it 190 years in the past when he was visiting the US, in regards to the native establishments, about what we name subsidiarity. You get down and boy, you don’t go to the federal government to unravel each drawback.

Hey, my household, if we’ve acquired a problem, we’re going to attempt to determine it out on the household. If we will’t determine it out on the household, possibly it’s a cousin or any person else will assist us, or possibly we have now to go to our church or to the [Veterans of Foreign Wars] or some group we belong to. However you don’t routinely say, “I’m entitled to a authorities handout. Nicely, you bought to alleviate me of my scholar mortgage debt as a result of I can’t afford it.” Hey, that’s not my fault, Buster.

Roberts: No, that’s proper. And but, it appears as if, as we’re diagnosing the considerably disappointing midterm elections, for these of us who’re conservatives, that President [Joe] Biden’s choice to forgive quite a lot of the coed debt had at the very least a modest political influence. So let’s posit that that’s appropriate. It most likely is, we don’t know for positive. Let’s simply posit that it’s, for the sake of the query. How can conservatively minded People then talk the message to people who find themselves changing into accustomed to authorities handouts?

Feulner: Going again to your assumption and presumption, I’d say it’s greater than that. I feel it’s a undeniable fact that the exit polls that I’ve seen point out that much more 18- to 30-year-olds who’re going to get these rebates on their scholar loans turned out than normally prove in midterm elections. So he acquired his base out and so they voted the best way he needed them to, and as an alternative of the pink wave, we had a pink ripple. And that was form of discouraging.

How can we persuade these residents that they’ll’t at all times rely upon authorities? I feel the very first thing that’ll occur is that the courts are going to say, “Hey, you’re not going to get it. And Joe Biden acted unconstitutionally when he stated he was going to provide it to you.” As a result of trying on the statutes, I’m not a lawyer, thank God, however there aren’t any authorized justifications for what he was proposing. And it was strictly a political factor.

Roberts: If I could, and sorry for the interruption, it happens to me that that group of People, you and I each know properly, they don’t like being lied to. I imply, nobody likes being lied to, however there’s a nice skepticism amongst People, truly, say 35 and youthful towards what authorities does. Not essentially as a result of they see it as an ideological factor, as you and I would, that’s, a sure hostility towards overcentralization, however as a result of they’ve been lied to.

And it appears as if messaging would possibly embrace from conservatives earlier than or along with what you’ve stated, earlier than we go on to different options: “Guys, what has been bought to you is a fraud in two methods. The primary is the tutoring your college charged, however secondly, the president saying that he truly has the ability to do something about it.

Feulner: I are inclined to divide the politically lively American constituency into form of three broad classes: the saints, the sinners, and within the center, the saveables. The saints are on our facet. Sure, you need to reinforce them. The sinners, possibly with conversion enterprise, however by and enormous—so you’re employed on the saveables.

And these guys ought to … be saveable in the event that they’re saying, “Hey, this ain’t the best way it’s alleged to be. It’s not working.” So how can we go to them and say, “Hey, particular person freedom means particular person duty too”?

In the event you’re going to take out a mortgage to go to a Slippery Rock [University] or some place to get your bachelor’s diploma, you higher be ready to pay for it. And with the intention to try this, you’re going to should undergo slightly bit sooner or later, since you’re going to should make these curiosity and principal funds on it. And don’t rely on the man who by no means had the chance to go to varsity to bail you out since you made some silly selections earlier.

That’s a tough promote. It’s greater than a one-line tweet to a selected particular person. And that’s a giant problem we face.

However again to the unique level I used to be making earlier than, commending you for what you had the audacity to do, when it comes to increase new establishments, that’s very long run. I imply, you look and also you rely a variety of actually good, stable establishments; possibly you rise up to 30 or 40 if you happen to’re actually a fairly liberal grader. Had been you a liberal grader if you have been a school member?

Roberts: I’ll provide you with one guess on that, Dr. Feulner. However I used to be forgiving.

Feulner: However I imply, you already know what I’m speaking about.

Roberts: Completely.

Feulner: As I stated, I’ve acquired 15 state universities and faculties in Virginia, and I can’t consider certainly one of them that’s actually very even-handed, not to mention barely leaning to the precise. Now, these are state establishments, I’ll admit, however meaning they’re taxpayer-funded establishments, which suggests, “Hey, possibly these taxpayers who’re paying should have one thing to say too about what’s occurring in these establishments.” Going by way of the establishments, that’s a generational factor.

Roberts: It’s. I imply, that’s the longest of long-term video games. It’s solely partially a joke after I inform folks I had a full head of hair after I acquired into constructing establishments, first a Ok-12 faculty after which Wyoming Catholic School. Very worthwhile initiatives. Nevertheless it takes the higher a part of a era for these even to money move.

Our associates who’re beginning the College of Austin, actually within the shadow of my alma mater, the College of Texas at Austin, they’re going to do properly as a result of they’re correctly resourced as they’re beginning. However even nonetheless, it’s going to take some time for them to excellent their enterprise mannequin.

That’s simply on the form of backend monetary facet. That’s simply to say nothing but about what they’re going to do when it comes to new issues cropping up, as each establishment encounters. So we have now to be concerned in that, however that may’t be the one factor that we’re concerned in.

And I feel that’s applicable too as a result of as I prefer to say, we’ve acquired some short-term tactical battles right here in D.C. and state capitals, at school board conferences, that, fortunately, conservatives are usually not solely engaged in, however we’re successful. I imply, I feel conservatives flipped one thing like 1,200 or 1,300 faculty board seats this cycle. So we simply should have a sure consolation degree with the truth. And you already know this out of your expertise, higher than most, that you simply’re going to win some, you’re going to lose some, however preserve your eyes on the trajectory shifting ahead.

So with that stated, right here we’re within the early 2020s, and that is actually the query I’ve actually been eager to ask you all yr: What, of all the teachings you’ve discovered, particularly if you’re a president of Heritage, however at any cease in your profession, do you assume are notably relevant to conservatives in America immediately as we confront main the subsequent era of conservatism?

Feulner: Let me reply that with in two elements. No. 1, if you happen to’re a conservative listening to Kevin Roberts’ podcast, you bought two of the essential three I’s. You bought the concepts, as a result of in any other case you wouldn’t be right here. You bought the people, as a result of you already know who try to be listening to, both Roberts or his visitors. However you don’t have the establishments.

You bought to assist construct the establishments. You bought to recuperate the establishments, if it’s larger schooling or if it’s your day by day newspaper, by getting in there and writing letters to the editor or giving them op-eds that they’ll’t preserve turning down like Invoice Middendorf nonetheless does at age 98 in Rhode Island, our former trustee.

So it’s the three I’s. And the opposite one is to do not forget that in politics, there aren’t any everlasting victories, as we all know who have been so victorious on the time of Ronald Reagan and the autumn of the Berlin Wall and all the good issues that have been occurring.

And I used to be writing speeches about [how] everyone has given up on socialism, socialism’s over. Milton Friedman and Friedrich von Hayek have been proper, it’s all—man. Right here we’re 25 years later, and have a look at what we’re up towards. Not solely socialism, however state management of so many establishments. That implies that you bought folks spying on different folks and every part we’ve already talked about. So there aren’t any everlasting victories, however on the similar time, there aren’t any everlasting defeats.

The current midterm elections, gosh, I used to be frankly slightly bit depressed afterward, and any person stated to me, “Nicely, Eddie, are we higher off immediately than we have been the day earlier than the election?” Nicely, yeah we’re. We’re not as higher off as I needed to be, however we’re higher off. So you bought to take a look at the intense facet and be that congenital optimist.

However what there at all times are: no everlasting victories, no everlasting defeats, however there are everlasting battles. And the battles for the establishments 25 years in the past. “Hey, Feulner, you shouldn’t have given up and stated, ‘Hey, we received this already. It’s over.’” It isn’t over. You bought to maintain in there, day after day, and yr after yr, combating these encroachments on freedom of selection, on rule of regulation, universally utilized on all of the issues we imagine in, in order that we will have extra prosperity and civil society and every part that Heritage stands for.

Roberts: So I usually ask this query at first of the podcast. Since you and I do know one another, I assume it didn’t happen to me then, however it strikes me that a few of our viewers is not going to understand how it’s you bought into the work that you simply’ve finished mainly to your total grownup life.

Feulner: Again in my undergraduate days with the Jesuits in Denver, Colorado, I had the good luck of studying from two professors of historical past. Truly, I by no means majored in historical past, however you already know—

Roberts: Not everybody’s excellent.

Feulner: Thanks. However that concepts have penalties. One of many first books I ever learn on the conservative facet was by most likely a forgotten Austrian, Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, “Liberty or Equality.” I assumed to myself, after I noticed the title, I stated, “Nicely, I’m in favor of each.” Nicely, however you learn Erik’s guide. And he turned a household buddy in later years. “Man, right here’s one path you possibly can take. There’s one other path you possibly can take. Which means are you going to go?”

And from that, the professor who put me on that guide stated, “Nicely, you should learn Russell Kirk, “The Conservative Thoughts.” Wow, that opened one thing up. This was earlier than Milton Friedman and the remainder of it. I discovered by way of {that a} group referred to as the Intercollegiate Research Institute. I turned concerned with them. I attended a few of their boards. Met Phil Crane, who ended up having a big effect on my life when he turned a congressman.

And I went to work with him and acquired a Weaver Fellowship for the primary yr; ISI had them. Went to the London College of Economics, met some actually neat professors and heard Friedrich Hayek lecture in particular person and issues like that.

So it was form of an immersion within the conservative motion very early on. And from there, got here again to Washington Heart for Strategic Worldwide Research, the place I had a fellowship, and that led me to work on Capitol Hill and from Capitol Hill, the place we began the Republican Examine Committee.

By that point, Crane was a member of the [Republican] Examine Committee, was a member of the Congress, and the founder, actually, of the Republican Examine Committee. And from that turned Heritage. And so it set me on my life observe. And someplace alongside the road, I needed to inform my father, “No, Dad, I’m not going residence and becoming a member of the household actual property enterprise in downtown Chicago.” And right here I’m.

Roberts: That needed to be a giant choice.

Feulner: It was. It was.

Roberts: So, final query. I feel you’ve answered this in quite a lot of methods, however trying ahead to this response. Lots of people who take heed to this present or watch it are, I might say, supernaturally hopeful due to their religion, clearly. However I at all times attempt to get them to even be hopeful about this life regardless of how elections go, regardless of how some coverage debates go.

Heritage, in fact, has by no means been bashful about weighing in and expending sources to win fights, legislative fights we expect are worthwhile. However you already know the place I’m going with this, is that lots of people really feel beleaguered. They assume that maybe America’s greatest days are behind us, that maybe conservatives are simply managing the decline of the republic. However I do know you properly sufficient to know that you simply awoke this morning optimistic in regards to the future. Why?

Feulner: Gosh, why? First, as a result of the Lord gave me one other day in my 81st yr. Secondly, as a result of my grandson had performed an excellent basketball sport yesterday afternoon up in Connecticut. However as a result of there have been so many alternatives on the market, not only for me, however for the youngsters, for the grandkids.

And gosh, every part we will do, when it comes to speaking to my granddaughter in suburban Philadelphia final evening: “Hey, Poppy, I acquired a 100 on my English take a look at. Isn’t that nice?” “Wow, Sarah, that’s terrific.” She most likely solely acquired a 92 in historical past, however that’s all proper.

However anyway, what are we going to transmit to the subsequent era? We will’t sit again on our laurels and say, “Nicely, we did the most effective we might. Time for bourbon on the rocks,” or one thing like that. That’s not what we’re about as conservatives. That’s not what we ought to be about, anyway.

We ought to be on the market saying, “Hey, what can we do immediately to make the world a greater place for the concepts we imagine in?” Sure, and first for our speedy household, for ourselves and our speedy household, however then past that, for the world on the market.

Which is why through the time I used to be at Heritage, I used to be at all times joyful to—even when George Mitchell, the late Democrat chief of the Senate, but additionally Newt Gingrich stated, “Feulner, we would like you to serve on the bipartisan fee on U.N. reform.” Oh my gosh, let’s not reform it. Let’s simply convert the New York headquarters into co-ops and ship all of them residence, as Chuck Lichtenstein as soon as stated with Jeane Kirkpatrick.

I imply, you see an establishment on the market and if there’s something on the market that you simply would possibly have the ability to have an affect on altering, get on the market and attempt to make it higher. Attempt to use that human capital inside you to do constructive issues as you look ahead.

And that’s why I get so inspired, whether or not I’m watching a TV industrial with Franklin Graham saying what he’s doing, or what Spirit of America is doing when it comes to serving to out Ukrainian refugees, and so many different constructive issues which might be occurring on the earth immediately.

On the similar time, I rise up within the morning and I say a prayer for the likes of the Jimmy Lais of the world, now again earlier than a Chinese language choose on his fourth or fifth trial within the final two years so he can serve one other consecutive time period [and] mainly life imprisonment for standing up for freedom in Hong Kong and in China.

We have now so many associates on the market, free associates who—and as you already know, the issues I really feel very strongly about. I’ve simply stepped down because the chairman of the Victims of Communism Basis, [which has] simply opened this museum down right here the place the essential theme of the 100 million individuals who’ve mainly been killed by communist tyranny over the past century, the essential theme is, “Bear in mind us.”

In the event you bear in mind them, you possibly can’t sit again in your laurels and say, “Nicely, world’s going to hell, neglect about it. And there’s nothing I can do.” No, you bought to do no matter you possibly can as a result of every single day you bought new challenges and new alternatives to say what we’re about and why our means of doing issues is best.

I’m optimistic.

Roberts: I’m smiling right here, for people who find themselves listening moderately than watching, since you are simply as optimistic and simply stuffed with cheerful combating spirit as you’ve at all times been. And … over the months and years I’ve requested that query in numerous boards, maybe by no means a extra poignant response.

Feulner: Thanks.

Roberts: And so, what a becoming approach to conclude an important dialog. We’ll do that once more, hopefully, many occasions. However let me say on behalf of a grateful conservative motion, Dr. Ed Feulner, thanks for every part you’ve finished and thanks for becoming a member of me.

Feulner: Thanks, Kevin, nice to be with you.

Roberts: Thanks for becoming a member of this episode of “The Kevin Roberts Present.” Clearly, a particular dialog for me and for these of us at Heritage, however I do know so a lot of you within the viewers know that what Ed Feulner has finished for this nation and for the conservative motion is particular to you as properly. We’ll see you subsequent week with one other mover and shaker, who can also be an optimistic American patriot. Take care.

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