What Now, Conservatives? Ed Feulner Stays Optimistic

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

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

“What are we going to transmit to the subsequent technology?” Feulner asks rhetorically. “We are able to’t sit again on our laurels and say, ‘Effectively, 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 at this time 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 suppose tank’s seventh and latest president, Kevin Roberts. (The Each day Sign is Heritage’s multimedia information group.)

The 2 leaders discuss the truth that conservatives lengthy have been outnumbered by the Left’s many tasks; classes for the motion in adversity and success; the daunting challenge of woke schools and different establishments; and the time required to realize 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 individual stated to me, ‘Effectively, Eddie, are we higher off at this time than we have been the day earlier than the election?’ Effectively, 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 brilliant aspect and be that congenital optimist.”

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

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

Click on beneath to look at or hearken to “The Kevin Roberts Present,” or learn the evenly edited transcript beneath.

Kevin Roberts: On this mindset that conservatives have about federalism, that our states are laboratories of democracy, you see actually adjoining to 1 one other your native state, Illinois, and Indiana. Indiana is doing effectively by each goal measure. Illinois is, to be well mannered, not doing as effectively by each goal measure. What are the origins of that distinction? As a result of that didn’t was 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 a giant, huge neon signal: “Welcome to Chicago, the 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 concern you’re going to be attacked or shot or mugged or one thing. My sister, the final member of my speedy technology, simply fled to Florida final 12 months: “I’m not placing up with this anymore.”

The fundamental guidelines simply don’t appear to use anymore in so many locations, whether or not it’s rule of legislation, equal therapy for everyone, which implies, “Hey, you break the legislation, 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, effectively, if you happen to’re solely stealing $900 value, you get a free go.

Man. You wish to do away with small enterprise and middle-size enterprise, that’s a great way to do it. Thanks, Mr. [George] Soros, on your prosecutors and the way in which he’s modified a few of these inner establishments.

You ask what the distinction is. You’ve bought threshold issues like that occuring that we didn’t take note of as conservatives, and we should always. Discuss to a few of our mutual associates who have been, by way of motion builders: “Oh, effectively, it’s so nice that Heritage has now bought 45 teams cooperating on our 2025 model of Mandate for Management.” That’s actually nice. What number of teams are on the opposite aspect 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: All the pieces. I get excited as a result of I’ve been a powerful supporter, as you effectively know out of your days at Texas Public Coverage [Foundation], of the state suppose tank motion. And yeah, we bought one in each state. And we’ve even bought some states with two or three. In order that’s why we bought 55. Sure, I do know there are solely 50 states, however there are 55 state suppose tanks on our aspect.

However you go searching and see what the opposite aspect has carried out by way of constructing establishments. And naturally, the way in which they construct it, it’s so much simpler as a result of they simply go to the federal government and say, “Give us a handout.” Conservatives by and huge gained’t try this. So now we have 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 necessary by way of how we modify issues.

Roberts: It takes a very long time. We had this dialog in a distinct setting earlier at this time, and I assume as a Burkian and somebody who typically taught [Edmund] Burke and Aristotle and political philosophy courses, I believe by way of establishments. Sure, coverage and politics matter, concepts matter. However in the end, I believe what we’re dwelling by means of proper now—I’m searching for your response to this, I don’t suppose we’ve talked about this instantly—what I believe we’re dwelling by means of proper now could be what I name a second American Revolution.

And I’m all the time 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 no less than modified and in some instances upended.

So for instance, within the state the place we each dwell, Virginia, at that time, the previous mild church buildings noticed membership actually change to new mild church buildings. Alexander Hamilton, as you already know little doubt, grew to become an legal professional for lots of British loyalists who needed to remain in the USA 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 believe 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 technology to the subsequent.

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You your self, I believe, have been method forward of most of us in realizing that’s the place loads 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 one among 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 typically are Catholic. You knew I needed to say that.

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

Roberts: Effectively carried out.

Feulner: However it was a Jesuit establishment and admittedly, it type of misplaced its method. So Wyoming Catholic is up there, not as huge as Regis, not as huge a price range, not as many college students, however by gosh, you’re carrying on by way of the institutional base that we’d like.

[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 onerous look. I accepted the job.

However these are among 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 USA. Woke is in every single place. 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 Normal’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 by way of DEI, there’s no requirement in any respect. It’s simply this factor that everyone says.”

And Gov. Youngkin, I believe, says it very effectively. He says, “It’s not DEI, it’s DOI. Variety, alternative, and inclusion, not variety, fairness, and inclusion.” And that’s distinction as a result of alternative, we’re all in favor of extra alternative; however fairness implies all people’s going to end up 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 USA, concerning the native establishments, about what we name subsidiarity. You get down and boy, you don’t go to the federal government to unravel each downside.

Hey, my household, if we’ve bought 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 individual else will assist us, or possibly now we have to go to our church or to the [Veterans of Foreign Wars] or some group we belong to. However you don’t robotically say, “I’m entitled to a authorities handout. Effectively, 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 determination to forgive loads of the coed debt had no less than a modest political affect. 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 turning into accustomed to authorities handouts?

Feulner: Going again to your assumption and presumption, I’d say it’s greater than that. I believe it’s a incontrovertible 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 end up in midterm elections. So he bought his base out they usually voted the way in which he needed them to, and as a substitute of the purple wave, we had a pink ripple. And that was type of discouraging.

How can we persuade these residents that they’ll’t all the time depend upon authorities? I believe 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 offer it to you.” As a result of wanting on the statutes, I’m not a lawyer, thank God, however there are not any authorized justifications for what he was proposing. And it was strictly a political factor.

Roberts: If I’ll, and sorry for the interruption, it happens to me that that group of People, you and I each know effectively, 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’d, 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 embody 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 schooling your college charged, however secondly, the president saying that he truly has the ability to do something about it.

Feulner: I are likely to divide the politically lively American constituency into type of three broad classes: the saints, the sinners, and within the center, the saveables. The saints are on our aspect. Sure, you wish to reinforce them. The sinners, possibly with conversion enterprise, however by and huge—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 way in which it’s purported to be. It’s not working.” So how can we go to them and say, “Hey, particular person freedom means particular person accountability 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 as a way to try this, you’re going to need to undergo slightly bit sooner or later, since you’re going to need to 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 choices earlier.

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

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However again to the unique level I used to be making earlier than, commending you for what you had the audacity to do, by way of build up new establishments, that’s very long run. I imply, you look and also you rely a lot of actually good, strong establishments; possibly you stand up to 30 or 40 if you happen to’re actually a fairly liberal grader. Had been you a liberal grader once 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 bought 15 state universities and schools in Virginia, and I can’t consider one among them that’s actually very even-handed, not to mention barely leaning to the suitable. Now, these are state establishments, I’ll admit, however which means they’re taxpayer-funded establishments, which implies, “Hey, possibly these taxpayers who’re paying should have one thing to say too about what’s happening in these establishments.” Going by means 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 individuals I had a full head of hair after I bought into constructing establishments, first a Okay-12 college after which Wyoming Catholic School. Very worthwhile tasks. However it takes the higher a part of a technology for these even to money stream.

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 effectively 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 good their enterprise mannequin.

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

And I believe that’s acceptable too as a result of as I prefer to say, we’ve bought some short-term tactical battles right here in D.C. and state capitals, in class board conferences, that, fortunately, conservatives usually are not solely engaged in, however we’re profitable. I imply, I believe conservatives flipped one thing like 1,200 or 1,300 college board seats this cycle. So we simply need to have a sure consolation degree with the fact. And you already know this out of your expertise, higher than most, that you just’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 12 months: What, of all the teachings you’ve discovered, particularly once you’re a president of Heritage, however at any cease in your profession, do you suppose are significantly relevant to conservatives in America at this time as we confront main the subsequent technology 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 necessary 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 company. However you don’t have the establishments.

You bought to assist construct the establishments. You bought to get well the establishments, if it’s greater schooling or if it’s your each 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 are not 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 taking place.

And I used to be writing speeches about [how] all people 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 take a look at what we’re up in opposition to. Not solely socialism, however state management of so many establishments. That signifies that you bought individuals spying on different individuals and all the things we’ve already talked about. So there are not any everlasting victories, however on the identical time, there are not any everlasting defeats.

The current midterm elections, gosh, I used to be frankly slightly bit depressed afterward, and any individual stated to me, “Effectively, Eddie, are we higher off at this time than we have been the day earlier than the election?” Effectively, 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 brilliant aspect and be that congenital optimist.

However what there all the time 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 gained this already. It’s over.’” It isn’t over. You bought to maintain in there, day after day, and 12 months after 12 months, combating these encroachments on freedom of selection, on rule of legislation, universally utilized on all of the issues we imagine in, in order that we will have extra prosperity and civil society and all the things that Heritage stands for.

Roberts: So I typically ask this query firstly of the podcast. Since you and I do know one another, I assume it didn’t happen to me then, but it surely strikes me that a few of our viewers won’t know the way it’s you bought into the work that you just’ve carried out principally on your whole 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. Really, I by no means majored in historical past, however you already know—

Roberts: Not everybody’s good.

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

And from that, the professor who put me on that e book stated, “Effectively, 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 means of {that a} group known as the Intercollegiate Research Institute. I grew to become 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 grew to become a congressman.

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And I went to work with him and bought a Weaver Fellowship for the primary 12 months; 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 type of an immersion within the conservative motion very early on. And from there, got here again to Washington Middle 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 Research Committee.

By that point, Crane was a member of the [Republican] Research Committee, was a member of the Congress, and the founder, actually, of the Republican Research Committee. And from that grew to become 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 house 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 determination.

Feulner: It was. It was.

Roberts: So, final query. I believe you’ve answered this in loads of methods, however wanting ahead to this response. Lots of people who hearken to this present or watch it are, I might say, supernaturally hopeful due to their religion, clearly. However I all the time attempt to get them to even be hopeful about this life regardless of how elections go, regardless of how some coverage debates go.

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

Feulner: Gosh, why? First, as a result of the Lord gave me one other day in my 81st 12 months. Secondly, as a result of my grandson had performed 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 children, for the grandkids.

And gosh, all the things we will do, by way of speaking to my granddaughter in suburban Philadelphia final night time: “Hey, Poppy, I bought a 100 on my English check. Isn’t that nice?” “Wow, Sarah, that’s terrific.” She most likely solely bought a 92 in historical past, however that’s all proper.

However anyway, what are we going to transmit to the subsequent technology? We are able to’t sit again on our laurels and say, “Effectively, 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 at this time 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 all the time completely happy to—even when George Mitchell, the late Democrat chief of the Senate, but additionally Newt Gingrich stated, “Feulner, we wish 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 house, 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 just 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 by way of serving to out Ukrainian refugees, and so many different constructive issues which might be happening on the planet at this time.

On the identical time, I stand 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 decide on his fourth or fifth trial within the final two years so he can serve one other consecutive time period [and] principally life imprisonment for standing up for freedom in Hong Kong and in China.

We now have 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 principally been killed by communist tyranny during the last century, the essential theme is, “Keep in mind us.”

In the event you keep in mind them, you possibly can’t sit again in your laurels and say, “Effectively, 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 each day you bought new challenges and new alternatives to say what we’re about and why our method of doing issues is best.

I’m optimistic.

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

Feulner: Thanks.

Roberts: And so, what a becoming solution to conclude an excellent 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 all the things you’ve carried out 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 carried out for this nation and for the conservative motion is particular to you as effectively. 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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