This weekend, my daughter finished second in the Washington area Student Congress championship tournament, a competition she won last year. She also qualified, along with two of her teammates at Walt Whitman High School, for the national championship tournament. This is the third time she has done so. Power Line reader Mark McManmon, coach of arch-rival Gonzaga College High School, had two debaters qualify for “nationals,” one of whom edged my daughter to become the local champion.
In judging debates during the past eight years, I have noticed a significant change in “sourcing.” In my day, we relied on major newspapers, news magazines, and college professors. Nowadays, the first two types of sources have been joined by websites, while the third source (professors) has virtually been replaced by think tanks. And the most quoted think tank is the Heritage Foundation.
In this regard, the debate circuit mirrors official Washington, D.C. Newt Gingrich makes this point in his Foreword to the new book Getting America Right, by Edwin Feulner, president of the Heritage Foundation and Doug Wilson, chairman of Townhall.com. Gingrich recalls the influence of Heritage Foundation policy experts on his thinking. Indeed, Heritage’s “Mandate for Leadership: Policy Management in a Conservative Administration” served to a considerable extent as a policy blueprint for the Reagan presidency and the subsequent Contract with America.
Getting America Right is in the same tradition. The authors’ blue print is founded on an examination of government programs and policies based on six questions: (1) Is it the government’s business? (2) Does it promote self-reliance? (3) Is it responsible? (4) Does it make us more prosperous? (5) Does it make us safer? (6) Does it unify us?
These questions strike me as just the ones that should frame the debate over the direction of the conservative movement and the country. And Feulner and Wilson for the most part are convincing in applying them to the major issues we confront.
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