December 18, 2008
WASHINGTON, DEC. 18, 2008-Dr. Edwin Feulner, president of The Heritage Foundation, today issued the following statement upon the death of Paul Weyrich.
The Heritage Foundation today mourns the death of Paul Weyrich, our founding president and a chief architect of the modern conservative movement.
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 policy-making.
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 movement.
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 years.
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.