Written by Daniel Newby exclusively for SouthFront
In April 2001, I represented the Sutherland Institute, a state-based think tank, at a Heritage Foundation Resource Bank Meeting in Philadelphia, USA, for the world’s “best and brightest conservative policy leaders”. In addition to US think tanks, 17 countries were reportedly represented.
This particular conference was more exciting than usual; I could actually stay awake. George Bush had defeated Al Gore for the US presidency, and the policy gurus were all atwitter at the turn conservatives had to reshape US politics.
Our movement would finally control the government agencies that had abused the citizenry. These agencies could now be forced to do our bidding; thereby accomplishing great “good”. Examples of such do-gooding would include reinvigorating the military-industrial complex through massive additional funding and new global missions.
Heritage Foundation representatives were particularly anxious to end years of harassment by the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and salivated at the prospect of turning the full fury of this agency and others upon their ideological enemies. Private organizations, even churches, would feast upon specialized government grants and other subsidies created.
After a panel of scholars and experts had finished outlining their objectives, they called for a few token questions from the audience. I approached the microphone to essentially inquire which dictionary they were utilizing.
Here we finally had a chance to restrain, retrain, and control the government that had made life so miserable for us. We needed to seize the moment before it slipped through our fingers!
The panelists denounced the impracticality of curtailing government largesse, as public support for limited government had waned. They advised us to instead focus our energies on making the beast suit “our” agenda.
“Which agenda?” I asked rhetorically. I attempted to rally other conference attendants against this betrayal of all we claimed to stand for, but with little success. Who was I to interrupt this gold rush of new revenue sources?
Fatsos for Hire
Choruses of drooling policy wonks — from well-funded think tanks to small ones — were soon squealing all the way to the slop trough frequented by fattened bureaucrats, shameless lobbyists, and corporate weasels. My own think tank likewise abandoned its principles — succumbing to the same warped mentality. I felt the integrity seep out of our work and knew my days in that arena were numbered.
More than a decade later, the tragic folly of these “conservative leaders” is clearer than ever. Their America is a cesspool of corruption and decadence, and her federal Leviathan is larger and more intrusive than ever. Its once-proud economy lies in ruins, its military is over-extended and decomposing before our eyes, and its people have lost confidence in their future.
This think tank community gave the green light for vast criminal network enterprises to manipulate US power and usher in unprecedented chaos abroad as well. Nation-states are collapsing, cultural uniqueness and identity are eroding, and pathetic puppet regimes seek petty wars to distract citizens from their gross incompetence and inability to resolve problems.
In their short-sighted arrogance and greed, these “great minds” pretended that the hordes of nefarious systemic hijackers infesting government would magically transform into community pillars with a little redirection and paper shuffling. They willfully ignored the pernicious nature of supersized bureaucracy and the public-private conglomerates that dictate and oversee its destructive programs.
Had they been unsuccessful in an honest attempt to lean down insatiable government appetites and unethical influences, they could have at least provided the next generation with essential knowledge and demonstrated to them how mature adults face challenges. When America collapses — the inevitable path for terminally-stagnant empires throughout history — a nucleus of scholars and political warriors could have been ready to fill the political vacuum.
Trading their collective power for a quick-and-easy meal, the think tank world was assimilated into the unaccountable muck of runaway exploitation. The April 2001 conference of “top conservative policy leaders” added its ranks to the cadres of parasitical lowlifes who survive and profit by bribery, extortion, and fraud. History has already forgotten the conference, and will soon forget the many organizations that participated.
Lead or Fade Away
To those seeking to revive the spirit of their citizenry, learn from this ignominious surrender. Calculate the tangible cost of hesitating to do what is required for the needs of your people.
Leaders who wish to be remembered for inspiring greatness must, with tenacity, cunning, and fortitude, conquer those enemies who shamelessly sap the vitality of a nation. Victory requires bold, visionary strategies that account for more than today’s short-sighted political expediencies.
Such champions must look for, and create, windows of opportunity currently shunned by cowardly bottom-feeders. And they must act while those precious windows are open.