Paul's death comes at a difficult time. Many Americans
seem discouraged. Our economy is tattered, our defenses
weakened, and Washington insiders openly call for a foreign
policy calculated to "manage decline gracefully " rather than
promote American leadership and values. Paul Weyrich was made
for times such as these.
A truly visionary leader, Paul had an unerring eye for spotting
the path to victory in the midst of seeming disaster. Thus,
in the late '60s, he surveyed the liberal stranglehold on America's
political process and began plotting how to infuse
conservative principles and traditional values in
Step One was founding a conservative research
organization. He toiled five years to bring that vision to
life, and on March 23, 1973, he was elected the first
president of The Heritage Foundation.
Seeing the need for increased conservative political action, he
resigned two years later to establish the Committee for the
Survival of a Free Congress. In 1977, that group became the
Free Congress Foundation organization that has trained an army of
conservatives engaged in our nation's culture war.
He was also instrumental in creating the House Republican
Study Committee and the Senate Republican Steering Committee,
giving that party organized bodies dedicated to upholding
conservative principles in the midst of the unseemly sausage-making
that goes on under the dome on Capitol Hill.
He furthered the same mission at the state level, helping
found the American Legislative Exchange council.
He went on to found or co-found numerous other conservative
organizations essential to spreading a broad-based,
principles-grounded, grassroots-driven conservative
He may well be remembered as the man who gave social
conservatives a seat at the policy table. Weyrich coined the
term "moral majority" and broadened the mainstream
conservative movement by bringing millions of devout believers into
the political process.
His influence was not limited to this
country. Weyrich lent a strong, helping hand in
toppling the Soviet Empire. As President of the Krieble
Institute, he trained 16,000 democracy activists in the USSR
in how to organize their fellow citizens in a call for true
liberalization. He organized a pro-secession campaign on
Ukrainian state television that produced such a lopsided victory
(91 percent pro-secession) it gave the other Soviet states the
moral courage needed to make the same choice for freedom.
Moral courage was a defining trait of Paul
himself. On any policy issue that turned on a core
principle, he never failed to take a public stand--regardless of
how that stand might affect his professional or personal
relationships. A political animal of the highest order,
he always chose principle over any
temporary "strategic" abandonment of principle designed to
win some transitory political victory.
This moral courage was matched with the physical courage he
displayed in the face of physical disability in his later
Paul Weyrich was a visionary, a builder, a moral and political
leader. America is a better and stronger country because of
his contributions. He will be sorely missed.