Heartland Institute Celebrates 31 Years

Published October 16, 2015

The Heartland Institute, CEO, Joe Bast, celebrated its 31st anniversary with a reception and dinner at The Cotillion in Palatine, Illinois, on Thursday, October 8, 2015.  Since 1984 Heartland has devoted itself to supporting individual freedom by discovering, developing, and promoting free-market solutions to social and economic problems.

The theme of this year’s celebratory event was “The Heartland versus The Ruling Class”, borrowed from the title of a recent book by the event’s keynote speaker, Angelo Codevilla, The Ruling Class: How They Corrupted America and What We Can Do About It.  Angelo Codevilla is a former staff member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, professor emeritus of international relations at Boston University, and the author of fifteen fine books on politics, arms control, and intelligence.   

In his book, Codevilla accordingly identifies the people and organizations at the heart of the attack on American freedom: 

“The Ruling Class is a bipartisan group of political elites educated at universities known for their left-wing biases, convinced of the soundness of their opinions even when they know little or nothing of substance, whose success largely depends on access to politicians or being part of a vast government bureaucracy.” 

Codevilla’s words certainly ring true as the 2016 election cycle unfolds. Many voters are fed up with a ruling class that is not listening to them and is further demeaning their intelligence by imposing upon them unacceptable, unsolicited opinions and rulings.  According to a new CBS News poll of October 10, 2015, Trump and Dr. Carson, having criticized the political establishment, are still dominating the Republican presidential race.

Heartland's Benefit - Charlie Kirk Heartland's Benefit - Angelo Codevilla

Charlie Kirk, of Turning Point USA, introduces Angelo Codevilla

It was appropriate that Dr. Codevilla was introduced by Charlie Kirk, as both are of the same persuasion in  their assessments of how the ruling class is negatively impacting society. Charlie Kirk is the Founder and Executive Director of Turning Point USA, a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization birthed on June 5, 2012.  The organization’s mission is to identify, educate, train, and organize students on college campuses in all 50 states to promote the principles of fiscal responsibility, free markets, and limited government.  Still in his early 20’s, Kirk conceived of organizing a group that would train young people to be “community organizers” on the Right while still he college. Jim Lakely, Communications Director for The Heartland Institute, without hesitation when approached by Charlie Kirk several years ago, helped Kirk realize his dream. Turning Point USA now has a full time staff of 53.

Charlie Kirk spoke of the ruling class in higher education as indolent people who work on college campuses as academicians and professors.  Even though the Left has become the ruling class on college campuses, it has made a serious error.  How so?  The Left rose to power by railing against the very machine it has now become. While Liberals consider free speech paramount to intimidation, speech is not considered free unless they are the ones doing the speaking. 

Angelo Codevilla recounts historical trends as harbingers of what followed  

Angelo Codevilla set the tone for his remarks by stating that “in every society there is some element that sets the tone for the rest of it.”   George Washington made an enormous contribution in what America became by embodying the precept that all men are created equal. In regards to Clinton, it wasn’t so much what he did, but that a substantial portion of the American people approved of it.  This question was then entertained by Codevilla: “Who do American men seek to imitate today when the moral compass is so far removed from what it was in the time of George Washington?” 

Soon after the era of this nation’s founding, continued Codevilla, a society began to develop in which races were considered unequal. Some were deemed better than other, leading to a belief in moral inferiority.  Southerners were considered inferior human beings.  As such Codevilla equated the Civil War as a battle between racial and moral convictions, with moral convictions winning out. 

The beginning of the 20th century saw a new class of society emerge who believed they were the rightful rulers. It was a time when the Chautauqua movement flourished and the ACLU came into being. Up until the time of Roosevelt, there existed a tug of war between those who favored limited government over those who wanted more government control. But it was under FDR that the ruling class assumed power, when decisions were to be made by the brightest and best government officials, not by technocrats.

As reflected by Codevilla, we no longer live in a republic where laws are made by legislators. They are instead made and enacted by unelected bureaucrats, whose judgments go unchallenged.  It is rule by decree, where the ruling class wins support by the goodies they generously dispense. It is an era where the law means what an administrator says it means. Consider the convoluted way in which Supreme Court Justice John Roberts was able to vote in favor of Obamacare by twisting the meaning of words.   It is a definition of absolute power when a ruling class can turn men into women.  When a child can declare that they are either a boy or a girl at any given time.   When fetuses out of the womb are simply fetuses to be dissected for their parts.

What can we do?  Speak the truth and argue.  It is important to know the subject so a convincing argument can be make. Recently Senator Ted Cruz did so when he confronted the Sierra Club president over global warming.  Some hope remains for this nation in facing the political aspect of the current era, as on both the  Right and the Left a massive objection has developed against the existing ruling class. Regarding the social aspect, Dr. Codevilla has noticed how the quality of freshman college students has declined over the years.  Here the bullet must be bitten. But of utmost important is the need to reduce the size and scope of government.  This will be up to us!

Dr. Donald J. Devine presented Heartland Liberty Prize by Campaigne and Morris

A highlight of Heartland 31st Anniversary Benefit Dinner was the presentation of this year’s Heartland Liberty Prize to Dr. Donald J. Devine by Jameson Campaigne, founder and president of Green Hill Publishers and Jameson Books, and Joe Morris, President, Lincoln Legal Foundation.  The award recognizes outstanding contributions to the defense of liberty.  Dr. Devine is a political scientist, author, and former Reagan official.  “The Washington Post” labeled Donald Devine as Ronald Reagan‘s “terrible swift sword of the civil service” when he served as Director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management during Reagan’s first term, “The New York Times” called him “the Grinch,” and the ‘Federal Times” titled Divine the “Rasputin of the reduction in force” – all because he helped cut 100,000 bureaucratic jobs and save over $6 billion reducing generous benefits.  Devine’s most recent book, America’s Way Back, all about reclaiming Freedom, Tradition, and Constitution, was available for purchase and autographing.

Dr. Devine emphasized how the size and scope of government can be cut if there is a determination and will to do so.  While a cut is seldom proposed by an administrator, this is what must be done!  As Devine remarked, “This nation won’t be saved by having the Republican Party in charge of government, but only by the involvement of ‘We the People.”‘ 

Fascinating was a discussion by Devine about economic depressions in America’s history.  Most people are aware of the “Great Depression of 1929” and of the current one, but there was also another depression, the depression of 1987.  This depression occurred during the Reagan administration.  What did President Reagan do about the depression?  Instead of throwing money at the severe economic downturn as a way to artificially prop up the economy, and likewise increasing regulations, Reagan did nothing. It worked, ushering in five years of prosperity.  

The final cabinet meeting Dr. Devine attended in the Regan administration was described in this way: Said Ronald Reagan:  “No country has gone this far down the road away from freedom and has been able to come back, but this is my challenge to you.”

Heartland's Benefit - Tom Morrison  Heartland Benefit - Joe Bast in hard hat
Welcome by Rep.Tom Morrison of IL 24th District 

The Honorable State Representative, Tom Morrison, served as master of ceremonies for the evening, as one of The Heartland Institute’s strongest allies in the Illinois state legislature since elected in 2011. Morrison represents Palatine and neighboring communities. With its move from Chicago to Arlington Heights, Heartland  is now in Morrison’s 24th Representative District.

Morrison intoned these famous words of Ronald Reagan, in extolling about the kind of world we want to leave to our children.

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

Morrison cautioned how Republicans must do better at communicating their message of freedom to the other side, lest the other side wins by default.

Opening Remarks by CEO Joseph Bast covered Heartland’s accomplishments over past year

Opening remarks were presented by Heartland’s president and CEO, Joseph Bast, during which he spoke of the the many accomplishments of The Heartland Institute during the past year.  Foremost was the amazing renovations that were accomplished from top to bottom to its new home at 3939 North Wilke Road in Arlington Heights, IL.  The renovations took ten months to complete, which created a challenge, given the lease at Heartland’s former Chicago headquarter had run out two months before the new headquarters could be occupied by Heartland staff.  White helmets were part of each table’s centerpiece, as a symbol of how Heartland’s new Arlington Heights headquarters was transformed into the amazing headquarters and workplace it is today. Joseph Bast, in a show of relief and pride over the completed renovations, wore a white helmet during a portion of his remarks.  

Among other accomplishments cited by Bast were:

  • “The Neglected Sun”, a German publication, will soon be republished with free copies sent to 5000 individuals.
  • Heartland recently created and launched this new website,leftexposed.org, a Heartland Institute project devoted to creating accurate profiles of prominent individuals and organizations on the political Left with a special focus on groups in the global warming (a.k.a “climate change”) debate.
  • New also at Heartland is PolicyBot, a search engine and database containing more than 32,000 reports, news articles, and commentaries from some 300 think tanks and advocacy groups, including those of The Heartland Institute. Publications can be searched by keyword, author, publisher, and date of publication, making it an ideal resource for researchers and legislative staffers.

Looking ahead in facing the future 

The Heartland Institute will continue in its mission to fight to preserve liberty and to advance free markets.  Such is essential if a nation founded on the principle of individual rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is to remain a sovereign and free nation, able to prosper and to flourish.  Unfortunately this nation no longer ranks among the top ten freest nations in the world. We’ve fallen to 12th place.  

The history of humanity reveals individual liberty has always been the exception while slavery and tyranny were the rule. May this nation not succumb to what Thomas Jefferson wrote as the natural progress of things. . . “for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.”

Photos by Nancy Thorner 

[Originally published at Illinois Review]