GOP lawmakers are increasingly unhappy with the Heritage Foundation’s political arm:
Members, congressional aides, and GOP strategists say the intellectual power that made the group a cornerstone of the conservative movement and garnered them access to offices across Capitol Hill for decades has been tainted by their political group’s pursuit for absolute purity. Heritage Action for America, the organization’s 501(c)(4), keeps score of votes, judging members based on how they line up with the group’s conservative priorities. And many members say they are tired of Heritage Action’s lack of discretion or rationale.
“Perhaps it is just that I am not smart enough to know … but there doesn’t always appear to be a lot of rhyme or reason,” said Rep. Trey Gowdy, a Republican from South Carolina, even as he emphasized his strong and consistent relationship with the Heritage Foundation’s leader. It was DeMint, he said, who empowered him to run for office in the first place. But Heritage Action is beginning to be a problem for conservatives.
“I separate out Heritage and Heritage Action. DeMint is Heritage to me, [Heritage Action CEO Michael] Needham is Heritage Action. I couldn’t pick Needham out of a photo lineup, and Jim DeMint is the gold standard for conservatism in my state,” Gowdy said.
Conservative/libertarian think tanks generally do their best work as research & idea factories, as opposed to acting as party whip agents.
There is supposed to be a degree of intellectual anarchy on the Right, as timeless principles rub up against new circumstances — requiring new policies to best protect those principles.
It’s much easier — and for them, more desirable — to get the Left to march in lockstep on its road to Perfect Statism.