‘Take back this country from an emboldened progressive Left’

After 50 years, conservative giant pushing'ambitious, audacious, and aspirational agenda.'
President Ronald Reagan

After 50 years, conservative giant pushing ‘ambitious, audacious, and aspirational agenda’

Peter LaBarbera
WND News Center

The Heritage Foundation, America’s “largest conservative research and education institution,” which has guided Republican administrations and policymakers from before Reagan to the Trump years, celebrates its 50th anniversary this week on Thursday, Feb. 16.

Led by its optimistic new president, historian Kevin Roberts, who vows that Heritage and its lobbying arm, Heritage Action, will play a key role in saving America from the authoritarian left, the policy-centered organization plans a series of celebrations leading up to a gala event and “leadership summit” in April.

“It is time for an ambitious, audacious, and aspirational conservative agenda to take back this country from an emboldened progressive Left,” said Roberts, who became Heritage’s seventh president in 2021 after serving as CEO of the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

Heritage’s stated mission is “to formulate and promote public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense.”

In an era in which conservatives can’t even agree on a definition of conservatism, perhaps one of the biggest questions Heritage will need to answer is: can a think tank based in the District of Columbia — where well-funded leftist groups and politicians and media beholden to them have amassed tremendous power — unify and mobilize a fractured movement of those disaffected by both D.C. “RINOs” (Republicans In Name Only) and the hard left?

If any “inside the Beltway” conservative organization can accomplish this feat, Heritage might be the one to do it.

Founded in 1973 by Edwin Feulner, the late Paul Weyrich, J.F. Ranch and Joseph Coors and as a response to President Richard Nixon’s cave-in to leftist policies such as price controls, Heritage has a knack for appealing to various strands of the political and economic right: from libertarians opposed to over-regulation, to defense-minded devotees of Ronald Reagan’s “Peace through Strength” philosophy, to social conservatives defending the unborn, religious freedom and the natural family and marriage.

As it has done now for decades, Heritage’s policy wonks, in D.C. and across the nation, are busy preparing a blueprint for what they hope will be the next Republican administration, to take power in January 2025. Learning from the Democrats, Roberts, in a recent interview with popular talker Glenn Beck, said the Heritage team is developing a minute-by-minute plan for day one of the prospective GOP-led White House. He also told Beck that one serious goal for the next Republican administration is the elimination of the Department of Education, angering the leftist media watchdog group Media Matters in the process.

Perhaps that particular goal will be achievable given Americans’ rising disgust with “woke” public education. But a previous Heritage ally, President Reagan, fell far short of the exact same promised goal of doing away with the department.

Despite that, the beloved president, like Republican Presidents Bush I, Bush II and Trump after him, relied heavily on Heritage to achieve his many conservative victories. Here is a 1986 video put out by the Reagan Library of “the Gipper” speaking at the Heritage Foundation in his second term:

Heritage lists as some its greatest accomplishments:

  • The Reagan administration’s implementing nearly two-thirds of the 2,000 policy recommendations from our first ever “Mandate for Leadership.”
  • Inspiring President Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative and pushing American withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, both of which paved the way to defend America from missile attacks.
  • The historic 1996 welfare-reform legislation that decreased child poverty and significantly increased employment.
  • The expansion of school choice via education savings accounts to five states and the introduction of legislation to a dozen more.
  • Success at preventing amnesty in multiple immigration bills, including major legislation in 2007 and 2018.
  • Guiding the Trump administration in revitalizing the U.S. military—with our modernization plans being adopted by the Marines and the Army, and 67% of our recommendations being included in the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act.
  • The Trump administration’s embrace of 64% of Heritage policy prescriptions through its annual budget, regulatory guidance, or other actions.
  • Three Heritage alumni serving in President Donald Trump’s Cabinet as secretary of defense, secretary of transportation, and director of the Office of Management and Budget.
  • Implementation of recommendations from our National Coronavirus Recovery Commission’s in 35 states to help save lives and livelihoods in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Its website states: “Heritage’s world-renowned experts — deeply experienced in business, government, the military, nonprofits, academia, and communications — spend each day developing innovative solutions to the issues America faces. From empowering parents in education, reversing growing spending and inflation, and protecting the unborn, to securing America’s borders, countering the threat of Communist China, holding Big Tech accountable, and ensuring free and fair elections — Heritage is on the front lines in the fight to help Americans thrive.”

In 2021, outgoing Heritage president Kay James called Heritage a “masterpiece, but a work in progress.” James’ successor, Roberts, once made headlines by refusing to accept federal monies and loans as the president of Wyoming Catholic College.

Among the issues Heritage has addressed over its many years as the flagship of American conservatism are:

  • educating citizens on the harsh reality of communism and the encroachment of Marxist and socialist ideas in the United States;
  • the benefits of school choice as a vehicle to liberate, through competition, Americans victimized by failing big-city schools; and

the dangers to First Amendment liberties and the natural family of the proposed federal LGBT “Equality Act.”

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