Politico has a nice piece on how Jim DeMint has made the Heritage Foundation less about policy and more about politics. The fact that DeMint is leading a crusade against moderates or anyone else in the GOP he disagrees with is no surprise. What is interesting is how this changing the Heritage Foundation’s reputation.
The Heritage Foundation for years was the think tank of the right. It started in the 70’s and became the idea factory for Republican politicians. Remember it was Heritage who designed the alternative to Hillarycare that included an individual mandate (what ever happened to that idea) and they were an early proponent of a ballistic missile defense system (what was called Star Wars during the Reagan Administration). That has changed in recent years and sped up under DeMint.
As Senator Mike Johanns put it:
They were regarded as the more conservative, thought-provoking entity – they always said another way of looking at things, free enterprise, less government – lower taxes. But I think now it’s really become a PAC. It’s a political operation. I think they’ve trended that way. I think Jim has taken on that final step. I think they are losing a great opportunity to be a thought leader; I really do. I think if you score every vote that comes along and act like you’re a political operation, you’ll be regarded that way. If you act like you’re the thoughtful, conservative think tank that it used to be, that’s how you’ll be treated.
This is more a reaction to a change in the market. Conservative activists do not seem to want any new ideas.
Don’t believe me, answer this question – what were the big ideas of the 2012 GOP Primary? Ok, besides Gingrich’s lunar mining colony.
I think you get my point.
Once you get beyond repealing everything Obama’s done, cutting taxes and regulations, outlawing abortion, making the courts more conservative, protecting guns, and spending more on the military that’s pretty much it.
Maybe you don’t need a think tank for that.