In 36 years heading up the Heritage Foundation, Ed Feulner had the ear of everyone from Barry Goldwater and William F. Buckley Jr. to President Ronald Reagan, Heritage Fellow Lee Edwards tells Newsmax TV.
In that time he transformed the think tank from a small policy shop into a powerhouse of conservative ideas.
“He’s also helped to build the American conservative movement into a major force with American politics, and, beyond that, he’s also changed think tank culture in Washington, D.C.,” Edwards, author of “Leading the Way: The Story of Ed Feulner and the Heritage Foundation,” tells Newsmax.
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Reagan, Buckley and Goldwater all turned to Feulner for guidance as the conservative movement began to enter the mainstream.
Feulner’s Three I’s (Ideas, Individuals, and Institutions) brought the conservative movement from its infancy to what it is today, Edwards tells Newsmax. “He would say that while all conservatives have the right ideas – limited government, traditional American values, free enterprise, individual freedom and responsibility … you must bring together the right people, the right individuals, the right team, to put those ideas into practice.”
But Feulner’s influence went beyond conservatives. His “briefcase test,” in which large volumes of research were pared down into writings which could fit in a briefcase and be read by a member of Congress in under an hour, is now used by think tanks such as the federal Brookings Institution and liberal Center for American Progress.
When Reagan was elected president, Fuelner’s Heritage Foundation gave him the 1,000-page “Mandate for Leadership,” a manual on how to turn the government in a conservative direction.
“President Reagan liked ‘Mandate for Leadership’ so much that he placed copies of it on the chair of every one of his Cabinet members at their first Cabinet meeting,” Edwards said. “That really became the manual for the Reagan administration for the next eight years."
As former Sen. Jim DeMint takes the helm of the Heritage Foundation next week, Edwards tells Newsmax that one of the issues the new president will face is division within the movement. DeMint will follow in Feulner’s footsteps as an advocate of bringing people together, he said.
Despite predictions of conservatism’s demise after the re-election of President Barack Obama in 2012, Edwards is optimistic. Why?
“Because it’s built upon the right ideas, American ideas, from the founding,” he says. Those ideas, he adds, will be taken, not only to members of Congress and their staffers, but to the grassroots as well.
On the major issue before the Supreme Court this week, Edwards says the answer is simple: “We looked at 2,500 years of western civilization which says marriage is the union between a man and a woman and it’s just that simple.” The concern, he said is not so much with adults, but with how children are affected. “And the best way to provide the right kind of environment for children is through traditional marriage.
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