At today’s Bloggers Briefing, Jim DeMint, the new president of The Heritage Foundation, talked about the crucial role he sees Heritage playing in the lives of Americans — and it doesn’t include typical Washington politics.
“I’m not going to be an apologist for the Republican Party,” DeMint said. “I’m going to talk about the ideas that we think preserve and conserve those ideas that made America great.”
DeMint’s vision includes three areas: policy development, grassroots outreach, and effective communication with the American people.
DeMint stressed the importance of Heritage’s solid policy work developed around “foundational principles that clearly make America unique and exceptional.”
While Heritage’s research is the foundation of its impact, the establishment of Heritage Action, reaching out to the grassroots, gives Heritage the power to encourage support from lawmakers in Washington and around the country.
DeMint, a former Senator from South Carolina, knows the way things work on Capitol Hill. It is a system that can and will be challenged when informed Americans actually understand policies and how their lives are affected.
“The lawmakers are not going to carry conservative ideas into policies if the folks around the country don’t understand or support them,” DeMint said.
DeMint emphasized the importance of the third component of his vision: communication. He said he is positive that Heritage can help bridge the disconnect between the government and the American people by communicating with the “American people in a way that relates to them personally.”
“Communication is a big part of why I came to Heritage,” DeMint said. “Learning to communicate these stories in a way that makes sense is important.”
DeMint said he hopes to seek out people affected by conservative policy and inform the rest of America of these successes.
“We know that the conservative ideas that we talk about here make life better for every American,” DeMint said. “We can prove it.”
Only about a week into his role as Heritage president, DeMint has already begun to reach out to people around the nation. He visited Texas to talk about the state’s need to copy Florida’s education reforms and spoke in North Carolina about the need to mimic Texas’s low income tax.
DeMint believes it’s essential to highlight this “competitive federalism” between states in a “storytelling” format where conservative “ideas are actually working.”
Keeping Americans at the root of Heritage’s outreach and policy development will help Heritage engage on issues such as immigration reform.
“What we believe at Heritage is this should be an open and transparent process,” DeMint said on immigration reform. “And this should be step by step so that Americans can be brought along with what needs to be changed.”
DeMint is clearly committed and excited to communicate simple, understandable conservative policy messages–while continuing Heritage’s tradition of in-depth research.
“We aren’t changing what we’ve done,” DeMint said. “We’re building on it.”