This weekend the conservative movement lost one of its best and brightest when former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Jack Kemp passed away Saturday night. We were honored to also count Kemp as a longtime Distinguished Fellow here at The Heritage Foundation. Kemp gave two lectures while at Heritage, both of which should still inspire conservatives today.

Speaking in July 1993, Kemp described how conservatives should offer an alternative to newly minted President Bill Clinton:

Recently, The Heritage Foundation has turned its intellectual firepower on exposing Clintonomics for what it really is – a mix of Reagan rhetoric and Jimmy Carter’s economics. As Tom Edsall of the Washington Post admitted, Clinton talks right while walking left.

In my view, this debate should not be over whether we’re going to spend $16 billion or $6 billion on a spending-driven stimulus package. Instead, for the good of the economy and the good of the country, America needs a real debate over the principles of what creates a growing economy.

Does government create jobs, or do entrepreneurs? Does government spending spur growth, or do lower taxes, less regulation, and spending limits? Can government direct investment better than the private sector? The answers to these questions provide the keys to designing a strategy for long-term growth in America.

Substitute “Clinton” for “Obama” and “$16 billion” for “$787 billion” and those same words could have been uttered this year. Just 17 months later, Kemp gave another speech, this time celebrating a conservative takeover of Congress. Again, his words should help focus conservative efforts today:

Democrats tried to make this election about anger. But thanks to New Gingrich and Dick Armey, and with the help of organizations like The Heritage Foundation and Empower America, we made this into an election about ideas – about opportunity, ownership, entrepreneurship, responsibility, education, safe streets, and jobs for all.

We will all sorely miss Kemp and his passion for ideas. We can honor his memory by fighting for the principles we shared with him every day.

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