FreeCons offer policy advice to candidates for public office
With the presidential primaries heating up and nomination contests for other offices coming up soon, now is a good time to remember that the electoral process ought to produce leaders with the ideas, temperament, and practical experience required to govern effectively.
Is that naive? FreeCons don’t think so. We believe politics is about more than power or entertainment. We drafted our statement of principles last year to outline a positive vision for our country, to ensure that “America’s best days are ahead.”
Many of our signatories work at the intersection of public policy and political rhetoric. Here are some examples of the policy advice they’re giving candidates for federal, state, and local office.
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Lanhee Chen is the David and Diane Steffy Fellow in American Public Policy Studies at the Hoover Institution and Director of Domestic Policy Studies and Lecturer in the Public Policy Program at Stanford University.
A former statewide candidate himself, Chen has advised multiple campaigns for president and U.S. Senate. He is also a Freedom Conservatism signatory.
“With the 2024 election cycle upon us, and the continuing progressive push for Medicare for All, it’s more important than ever for policy makers who believe in market-based reform to be able to articulate their own, alternative vision for the future of our health system,” they wrote.
“At the same time, health reform should not upend the current system or take options away.” Instead, reformers should focus on giving households “more choices within the system we already have.”
For example, Chen and his colleagues propose the creation of “individual health accounts” — more broadly available and less regulated than current HSAs — as well as an end to federal and state regulations that limit competition among medical providers.
Housing and mobility
As executive vice president of the Arizona-based Goldwater Institute, Christina Sandefur develops policies and litigates cases that advance healthcare freedom, free enterprise, private property rights, free speech, and taxpayer rights.
Sandefur, a frequent media commentator and the author of Cornerstone of Liberty: Private Property Rights in 21st Century America, is also a FreeCon signatory.
Observing that cities from San Francisco to Atlanta originally instituted land-use restrictions as explicit tools of segregation, Sandefur pointed out that localities continue to use indirect methods, from exclusionary zoning to eminent domain, to keep less-wealthy people from moving into better neighborhoods.
“It stands to reason,” she wrote, “Laws that make housing more expensive are necessarily going to benefit those with more money and political power — and that’s not going to be racial minorities.
“Even where city officials don’t intend to discriminate by race, legal limits on property use are going to have a disproportionate impact on America’s less well-off.”
Regain voters’ trust
Adam Brandon is the President of FreedomWorks, a grassroots service center to millions of activists who support smaller government, lower taxes, free markets, personal liberty, and rule of law.
A former campaign manager, press secretary, and high school teacher, Brandon is a frequent media commentator and a FreeCon signatory.
“These voters want innovative commonsense policies,” Brandon wrote. “They want others to tolerate their differences while finding common ground to move ahead. They want policies and positions that offer choices so they can exercise their free will to make a difference on issues by choosing what paths are best for themselves, their families and their communities.”
If candidates seek to attract swing voters, they need to listen intently and read polls carefully. Those who don’t will struggle to win.
“Refusing to acknowledge the issues and their importance to the independent voter is the first problem. Pretending we don’t have an immigration problem is not going to work, nor is denying the need to restructure Social Security before it goes bankrupt.”
James Gwartney R.I.P.
A longtime economics professor at Florida State University, Gwartney co-authored the popular textbook Economics: Private and Public Choice and helped create what is now the Fraser Institute’s invaluable Economic Freedom of the World index. He’d served as president of the Southern Economics Association and the Association of Private Enterprise Education.
Writing today in The Wall Street Journal, free-market scholars Richard Vedder and Robert Lawson described the effects of the index this way:
It now scores 165 countries based on several dozen indicators, including low government spending, protection of private property rights, stable prices, free trade, and light regulation of markets. More than 1,300 peer-reviewed journal articles have used the Economic Freedom of the World index to demonstrate the beneficial effects of economic freedom for national income growth, healthy outcomes and equality across many dimensions.
Gwartney will be sorely missed. Well done, good and faithful servant.
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