Heritage breaks two glass ceilings

Hillary Clinton was supposed to break the glass ceiling, which she said has kept a woman from becoming president, but the Heritage Foundation, a conservative public policy think tank based in Washington, D.C., has actually done it.

Their new president is Kay Coles James, a female, an African-American and a conservative, who fits no one’s mold. While her background is formidable — former director of the Office of Personnel Management, Virginia secretary of Health and Human Resources, and dean of Regent University’s School of Government among other accomplishments — her vision is even more compelling.

Perhaps that is because she agrees with me on the issue of liberating poor and minority children from failing public schools and building a foundation that will give them a better future.

In a telephone interview, James tells me school choice for these kids is one of her “top priorities.” The left has tried and failed to improve the lives of African-Americans through government programs. As Donald Trump said during the 2016 presidential campaign, why not try a different approach? President Trump has also placed welfare reform as a top priority in 2018. The last time it was tried, under Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich, it succeeded. As president of Heritage, James can give Trump the intellectual and factual resources to make further reforms and achieve this and other goals.

A return to the intellectual heft of William F. Buckley Jr. and outgoing Heritage president Edwin Feulner is much needed in a conservative movement that has been hijacked by nastiness and anger. Winning an argument is preferable to destroying one’s opponent. It can also produce better results.

James’ “inaugural address” hit just the right tone: “Heritage has always promoted economic growth and opportunity — and why it has never wavered in opposing those who would burden our freedoms and future with the suffocating force of mindless regulations and punitive taxes.”

Who opposes growth and opportunity? The debate has been over how to get there. History shows which ideas worked and which failed.

“Success in politics is about issues, ideas and the vision we have for our country in the world,” James said. George H.W. Bush dismissed “the vision thing,” but “Without a vision the people perish.” (Proverbs 29:18)

For liberals who might accuse James of being insufficiently black because of her conservatism, let them respond to this: “When I was 12 years old, I started attending an all-white middle school. To say we weren’t welcome is an understatement. Despite the Supreme Court’s Brown versus Board of Education ruling, Virginia Democrats insisted on keeping the public schools segregated.

“So 25 incredibly brave black kids and I tried to change that. For a while, navigating the packed hallways meant being jeered at, stuck with pins, shoved, and even kicked down the stairs. I see it on your faces — yes, it was awful. But it was worth it. You see, I’d been given a great gift — the opportunity to fight for something I believed in. And it changed me forever.”

When a conservative favorably quotes Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. you might expect a new day may be coming for the conservative moment. James noted King’s remarks the day before he was murdered 50 years ago: “We have an opportunity to make America a better nation … to make America what it ought to be.”

That is an ongoing and never-ending quest, but James, whom I have known for several decades, will do it with a cheerful spirit, a confidence based on ideas that have proved their worth and a charm that can disarm her most ardent critics.

That’s a pretty good package that offers an opportunity to retreat from battling each other’s personalities, integrity and patriotism and instead focus on the best ideas that will improve any American who embraces them.

Readers may email Cal Thomas at tcaeditors@tribpub.com.

More in Opinion

A resident casts their vote in the regular municipal election Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020 at the Kenai Peninsula Fairgrounds in Ninilchik, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)
Voices of the Peninsula: All votes matter

In the beginning, only property-holding white men could vote.

Cristen San Roman. (Photo provided)
Point of View: Is management of Cook Inlet catered to special interest groups?

If these fish are so at risk, why is BOEM able to move forward with lease sale 258?

Homer Foundation
Point of View: Grateful for the hidden ‘good’

Gratitude: Noun The state of being grateful; thankfulness. The state or quality… Continue reading

Homer High School Principal Douglas Waclawski. (Photo provided)
Point of View: What is Homer High School about?

What I consider Homer High’s strength is that we are a place for learning.

UAA Chancellor Sean Parnell. (courtesy photo)
Alaska Voices: Invent your future at UAA

At UAA we’re providing the tools to help students of all ages and skills chart a new course forward.

A registered nurse prepares a COVID-19 vaccine at the pop-up clinic on the Spit on May 27. (Photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)
Alaska Voices: Vaccination is the still best protection from COVID-19

The Alaska State Medical Association encourages you to protect yourselves and your community from preventable illness by getting recommended vaccines.

(Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
The sad diminishment of Rep. Don Young

Young seems afraid to demand his party leader defend the dignity of the institution he loves.

A “Vote Here” sign is seen at the City of Kenai building on Monday, Sept. 21, 2020, in Kenai, Alaska. (Clarion file)
Alaska Voices: Restore our strong campaign donation limits

Without campaign spending limits, the ideal of one person, one vote is no longer really true.

The Final Redistricting Map approved for the Anchorage and Matanuska-Susitna area is seen on Nov. 9, 2021. (Map via akredistrict.org)
Alaska Voices: The Alaska Redistricting Board’s last-minute gerrymandering failed Alaska

Our Constitution outlines rules for a redistricting process designed to uphold public trust.

This photo shows the trans-Alaska pipeline and pump station north of Fairbanks. (AP Photo/Al Grillo)
Alaska Voices: The permanent fund has been taking care of Alaskans for 45 years

It’s the largest sovereign wealth fund in the nation, the pride of Alaska and this month we celebrate its 45th anniversary.

Dr. Tom Hennessy, MD, MPH (Courtesy)
Voices of the Peninsula: Don’t take medical advice from politicians, athletes or social media

Evidence leads to consensus among medical doctors: Vaccines are the best way to prevent infection.

The Entrance to the University of Alaska Southeast. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: The University of Alaska is the state’s most important resource

Together, let’s break the record for donor participation.