In writing about Jim DeMint’s decision to leave the Senate and become president of the Heritage Foundation, I noted that Heritage recently has supplemented its traditional role as a major research institution by getting more involved in day-to-day political battles on Capitol Hill. DeMint, I added, is well-suited to help lead that move.
Tevi Troy argues, however, that the focus of think tanks like Heritage should remain on research, not partisan politics. According to Troy, “if he is to be successful, DeMint should focus on building an organization that is itself primarily an idea generator.”
I agree. Washington suffers from no shortage of wily political operatives. I’m not sure the same can be said with regard to non-superficial, non-politicized policy analysis.
Fortunately, as Troy points out, DeMint appears to understand this. In his remarks upon taking the job, he emphasized the need to ”protect the integrity of Heritage’s research and not politicize the policy component.” He further noted that “Heritage is not just another grassroots political group.”