Anyone wondering whether the Washington swamp can be drained need only look to some amazing accomplishments in the states for encouragement, where state think tanks are leading the fight for freedom. Michigan, with a long-standing tradition of forced union membership, became a right-to-work state in 2013 after decades of efforts led by Mackinac Center for Public Policy. This year, the Beacon Center in Tennessee successful led the charge to phase out the state’s Hall Tax – a 6 percent levy on investment income – which will make Tennessee truly an income tax-free state in 2022.
Mackinac and Beacon Center are part of the State Policy Network, which includes 65 free market state think tanks in almost every state in the nation. Kansas Policy Institute is also an SPN member and we have our own list of state policy accomplishments.
Tracie Sharp, CEO of State Policy Network, was recently interviewed by the Wall Street Journal and expressed optimism for more freedom victories in the coming years thanks in part to a network that continues to grow. As reported in the story, “State think tanks are still relatively new, founded in earnest beginning in the late 1980s. But the network has sprawled since then, from 26 groups in 1991, to 54 in 2008, to 65 today with four more in the works. Combined revenues hit $80 million two years ago, and total staff has nearly doubled in the past six years to 525.”
“We have groups that are 20, 25, 30 years old, because we’ve built a durable infrastructure,” Ms. Sharp says. “I think that is perhaps confounding to the left,” she adds. “They have been trying to launch state-based efforts over time. They usually are centrally controlled from a D.C. hub—this is my experience. They tend to have one or two donors. And then the tide changes, the donor changes their mind, and then it just doesn’t take root.”
She’s also optimistic about some of the state-level election results but warns, “I want to be clear: Sure, a lot of Republicans got elected,” Ms. Sharp says. “That’s no guarantee that they’ll do the right thing. That’s where our work is so important.” KPI’s annual Freedom Index, which tracks legislators’ votes on issues, certainly bears that out; the Lifetime Index shows 16 Republican members of the House and 4 Republicans in the Senate voting against freedom issues more often than not (reflected as a score below 50 percent).
Regardless of how things turn out in Washington, those who want the Founders’ vision of personal freedom and limited government restored have good reason to be optimistic. The Founders taught us that we don’t have to win the Battle of Washington to preserve our Republic. There were almost 200 battles fought in the Revolutionary War; the British won most of the battles, but the Patriots still won our independence! The Patriots won a war of attrition, winning enough battles to prove to the enemy that they’d never give up.
So we don’t have to win the Battle of Washington to take back our Republic…we have to win enough of the battles being fought now in the 50 state capitols to show that we will never give up! The 2016 elections will make the Battle for Kansas tougher in the coming years but we’re up for the fight – and we’ll never surrender.
We must all do our part to take back our Republic and there are many ways to get involved. Sharing this information with your friends and associates by email and through your social media accounts is a great start. If you want more information, contact information for State Policy Network and Kansas Policy Institute is at the bottom of both our sites. And of course, your soldiers on the front lines need a constant stream of supplies and ammunition, so you might also consider making a tax-deductible gift to SPN and KPI.
Together, we can win the battles to take back our Republic.