Taking On the New “Big Government”

COMMENTARY Conservatism

Taking On the New “Big Government”

May 17, 2023 28 min read
Kevin D. Roberts, PhD


Heritage Trustee since 2023
WLDavies/Getty Images

“Big government” is a shifting idea. What was once a looming threat of liberalism and heavier taxies has morphed into a monster that wields state power to ratchet down on liberty, stem information, and weaponize woke ideologies to rapidly fracture the nation and push a progressive agenda. One of their newest targets has been the debt ceiling—a fight for which they’re willing to hold American tax dollars hostage.

Fortunately, there’s a way to take down such a beast: Arm everyday Americans with the truth. It’s an area of expertise for this week’s guest, Russ Vought—president of the Center for Renewing America and Director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Trump, our guest on this week’s episode.

Russ Vought: People need to understand this is not Bill Clinton’s big government. It’s not Jimmy Carter big government. It’s a Barack Obama, Joe Biden infused, hybrid, militant, woke, and weaponized government that makes every decision on the basis of climate change extremism and on the basis of woke militancy, where you’re effectively trying to divide the country into oppressors and the oppressed.

Kevin Roberts: Welcome back to the Kevin Roberts Show. In this episode, you are in store for some serious business. By that I mean we’re going to have some fun, but we’re also going to talk about substantive changes in American policy that will increase our freedom. And we’re going to do that with my very good personal friend and a former colleague here at Heritage. He was vice president of Heritage Action for America. He went on to run the Office of Management and Budget, and now president of the Center for Renewing America, Russell Vought.

Vought: Thanks for having me. Kevin.

Roberts: You’re a busy guy. Thanks for being here.

Vought: Oh, it’s my pleasure. Good to be home

Roberts: Thank you for that. For people who think... We were joking off camera about the fact that you only used to deal with spreadsheets. Tell us your story about how you got to do what you do, obviously including your stint here in The Heritage Enterprise, but when you and I got to know each other, you were running OMB very impressively, and now running a very important organization that is obviously part of the conservative movement, but part of something we’re going to be talking about later in the episode, project 2025. What’s Russ’s story?

Vought: Sure. I was a budget staffer and Phil Graham was my first boss and know him from Texas and he said, “If you do budget, you do everything.” And so I really took that to the heart and spent 12 years on the House and the Senate working on budget policy, Jeb Hensarling in the House.

But I got to the point where if you’re going to have lasting change, you got to have an outside game. So you could spend your whole career encouraging members to vote a certain way from the inside. But I wanted to go and share what I knew, what I learned, and tell the grassroots. And so I came to Heritage, was here for six years helping build the Sentinel Program and really an opportunity to make sure that they had, the grassroots has as much knowledge as a member of Congress.

And that’s really what I think you should aspire to in the grassroots, is it is a high information game as opposed to what you often hear, which is you need to dumb it down for the grassroots, totally false. And then President Trump wins and I have an opportunity to go back and start doing budgets again and participate in that administration, and learning a lot of what I had put together for a long time. And it’s not all green eye shades. I do like to make fun of my class of people as a bunch of propeller heads, but you really are at the center of the ability to control that policy issue when you’re talking about budgets.

Roberts: So I want to hone in, we’ll talk about budgets because we’re going to talk about debt ceiling, but I don’t want to lose a thought that I currently have, which is something really astute that you mentioned that I think resonates with the audience. But maybe if there’s a member of the audience who doesn’t do grassroots work per se, in the way that say Sentinels at Heritage Action do, or the way the folks who support Center for Renewing America do. Information is currency. And one of the things that actually gets me angry, I mean not just frustrated but angry, I know it does for you too, is when elitist in DC say, “We got to dumb down the information for the grassroots.” Do you have an example or two of when you participated in giving the grassroots information? And with that, they prevailed on a really important policy?

Vought: Sure. The situation with the 20 in the work that they did to have a consequential vote with regard to the speaker. And are we going to have paradigm shifting speaker or are we going to have a paradigm shifting result? And we got the latter and I’m thankful for that. But the way this DC would work is you would have, well, some trumped up argument where you say, “Well, no one’s running. No one’s running.” The member goes home, they say to the grassroots, “You’re misinformed. There’s no other candidate against Kevin McCarthy.”

And so this time we actually orchestrated and planned to deal with the memes that we knew what would come. But that’s the type of example that the cartel goes home and then tries to kind of mansplain it to their grassroots. And you got to be able to arm them to say, “What is a motion to vacate?” They’re going to know what a motion to vacate is, it’s a vote no confidence. But you’ve got to be able to talk through the procedure.

And my view, Kevin, is that you can’t be influential and effective if you don’t know the three Ps: policy, politics, and process. And if you divorce yourself from any one of those three, you’re going to be ineffective. And we want that to be the case of the members of Congress that we deal with and we want the grassroots to be aware of that as well. And if they get that, they will be influential. And then they can save the country at the local level, local statesmanship.

Roberts: Is it your sense, are we three months in two and a half months into Speaker McCarthy’s tenure where we’ve had a paradigm shifting process, that we’re reaping fruit from that or we’re close to reaping fruit from that? This is a question I get a lot as I travel around the country. Was the juice worth the squeeze? You and I both think so, what would you say to people who are constructively critical of it?

Vought: I think they should be optimistic. And that’s not something you often get from me

Roberts: That that alone is newsworthy.

Vought: Right, we’ve broken some news there. But people want to look at this from the same filter as they have for the last 12, 15 years. And what I’m encouraging people is, power has shifted in a fundamental way and it takes a long time to see that. But we are not in the Old Testament and we’re in the New Testament. And you got to give it a little time for the actors themselves, the members of Congress in the arena to both step into their new suits and perform with the confidence of what they just accomplished, and to have the power structure to deal with that.

And I’ve not seen anything, I’ve been telling people, I think Kevin McCarthy has a chance to be a historic speaker and I was his biggest critic. But he has to step into that and allow transformational house paradigm to actually work. And I have seen nothing to dissuade me, that is taking a step back. But people want instant moment by moment. It’s going to take weeks and months to have this play out

Roberts: Yeah. And for what it’s worth, and more about this than I do, but I agree enthusiastically. I mean that that’s been our experience at Heritage and at Heritage Action the last few months, is the speaker’s office, the leader’s office, the whip’s office, have been very welcoming for those of us who are known as stalwart conservatives, and also willing to take some differences of opinion without stonewalling us, which is usually what the conservative movement gets right. You know this better than most. So we’re also optimistic to the point of hopefully remaining optimistic.

There will be some important test votes. And you and I have worked formally and informally together on border security over the last couple of years. That seems to be a looming vote that’s coming up this spring. But the one where you are dialed in, and I would argue really leading the policy and messaging for the conservative movement is the debt ceiling. So not that we need to dumb this down for this audience, we want to give them information, what’s the situation, what’s the landscape, what’s your prognosis of how that will play out?

Vought: The best way to understand the debt limit is we have a balanced budget amendment in statute. So everyone says, “Well the federal government needs a balanced budget.” I would take it, but we have one, it’s called the debt limit. And we overwhelmingly increase it every other year. And it has to be a moment where you get a paradigm shifting result with regard to spending and government in the administrative state.

And right now Joe Biden needs a debt limit, every president does. And it’s going to give house conservatives massive leverage, leverage beyond what they have in terms of just having control of the house, a very small control. At the end of the day, Janet Yellen has to go into the Oval Office and says, “Joe Biden, you’re going to cut a deal and you’re going to do it today,” because every president has to cut that deal. And as a result, it gives a huge opportunity if they can get the message right, the ask right. And I think they’re not well on their way to doing that in the house to say, “You are not going to get past this checkpoint unless we get a massive amount of spending cuts.”

My personal view is that that should be about the bureaucracy crushing, that for too long we have fought about social security and Medicare which need reform. But if you were to ask me to put on the top 20 list of issues that I’m concerned about at night, in the morning when we wake up, those two are not one of them. What is most concerning to me is the woke and the weaponized bureaucracy that is oppressing the American people. And you and I talked with them all the time when we go around the country. We’ll be having in lunch with someone, “You know the EPA just fly by, took pictures of me and accused me of this, that and the other?” And I’m like, “No, I’m not surprised by it.”

But people think this isn’t just the F BI and DOJ, it’s not. It’s the EPA. It’s putting a 77 year old Navy veteran in jail for building four ponds on its ranch to fight wildfire. He died before his case was cleared and his reputation was cleared. There are examples like that at every single agency, and I believe that the way that you deal with your fiscal house is to go after the easiest of the spending by reducing, cutting, and eliminating that woken, weaponized bureaucracy that is armed and militant in a way that people need to understand. This is not Bill Clinton’s big government. It’s not Jimmy Carter big government. It’s a Barack Obama, Joe Biden infused hybrid, militant, woke and weaponized government that makes every decision on the basis of climate change extremism and on the basis of woke militancy where you’re effectively trying to divide the country into oppressors and the oppressed.

And that’s what I saw at OMB, every decision they made had this filter. And that’s only been amped up since we left. And so that’s where I want them to focus the debate with reckless abandon and take the debate to the country. Look, these things are opportunities for us to cut through the liberal media. I want to cut through the liberal media and so the next six months I want to have no other debate than the next six months, did you know the federal government is oppressing you? It’s woke and it’s weaponized. And I want you to tell me all the stories in your community about the way that is true. And we’re going to win that debate, Kevin.

So there’s a lot of things that they’re fighting for. That’s my highest priority. I’m very optimistic for how this looks because at the end of the day, house conservatives have a real seat at the table. So it’s not going to get dumped in a cul-de-sac without a fighting chance.

Roberts: And a couple of those conservatives who are now on the Rules Committee Chip Roy, Ralph Norman, are real stalwarts. And other members of that committee are very good too. But this, I think what got lost in a lot of the rather vapid commentary about the speakers’ race, including by outlets we would usually trust, at least for three or four days until they changed their tune, was that the process is a vital part of it. As you said, it’s one of your three Ps. And for too long stalwart conservatives, movement conservatives have said, “I’m going to leave the process to other people.” You’ve been a great coach for the movement in saying we got to be focused on it. All of that to say, how do you see the debt ceiling fight playing out, like month by month? You travel the country as I do. Invariably I get the question as I did last night, at what month are we on the brink of defaulting?

Vought: Well, we should never be on the brink of defaulting because that’s ultimately a presidential decision and he will always have a necessary resources to pay for the amount on treasury principles and interests, period, end of story.

The debate really is about what counts as default. So is every last grant that Tony Fauci sends to the Wuhan Institute, does that need to be timely paid? Is that really the full faith in credit of the United States? And I would say no. And they would say, “Well, that’s default by another name.” I’m happy to have that argument. Okay?

So we’re going to have that debate. But what I really see, the timing is very soon. I think the house conservatives will come out with, and the full house majority will come out with what their debt limit proposal is and that they will pass that. And that will be in the next couple of weeks. And that will be sending a proposal over, putting the Senate on notice and sending it to the White House and saying, “You guys negotiate. So you can do it today or you can wait till we actually have close up to the actuaries are saying the X date, which is when things get real.” We can have that debate at any time in the next several months. And I think depending on how we win the narrative and the message, and you and I will have a lot to do with building a ground swell around the country to help these members. He’ll have to come to the table. And this will really get real towards the end of May and June.

Roberts: Thanks for that. A related question. And that is on social security and Medicare, agree fully, it’s not part of the conversation now. But for our audience members who find it a little frustrating, and for some of them more than a little frustrating, that we’re not even allowed to talk about it at this time. Explain the tactics behind that, but also at what point do you think from a policy and political point of view, the conservative movement does need to be talking about that?

Vought: Sure. And I would just say I’ve supported all of these reforms. I’ve been a part of writing them for senators and members of Congress. So it’s not that I don’t think that they’re a problem, it’s that political capital is a finite resource, and that we lose, and I believe we’ve lost for many, many decades because we have not been careful stewards of political capital and thought carefully about the fights that we want to have, and need to have to base as statesmen should the most critical fights that we would need to have.

So we put forward a budget and they were modeled after our budgets at OMB where we have 9 trillion dollars in spending cuts. A third of that is discretionary, woke and weaponized bureaucracy, and two-thirds is mandatory. We do not touch the benefits of social security and Medicare, not because they are not actuality unsound and they are, but because I actually want to get to the point where we someday get to reform those because the American people have come along and been part of cutting the easy stuff, then the less easy, than the somewhat hard, and then the stuff that requires a lot of a conversation about.

And my view is just the kind of view from the diner. I’m the son of union workers and so I process everything politically from the diner. You’re going to try and tell me that after I’ve been paying into social security and gave the federal government a surplus for decades, you’re going to tell me that’s the first thing we cut as opposed to the Bob Dylan statute in Mozambique or the LGBT activist in Senegal? Really that’s the first thing you’re going after? Because they’re not paying attention on the day-to-day. They’re seeing the narrative. What’s the fight about going across the TV screen? What what’s being talked about in that diner? And they’re saying, “Does DC care about me?” And they’re saying, “After the surplus is that you squandered on the bureaucracy. You didn’t put it in investment accounts in the 2000, you put it in the Department of Agriculture, in the State Department foreign aid. And that’s going to be where you start?”

And so my view is you start where the threat is the greatest and then you build a culture of spending cuts and restraint. You get people committed to a goal of fiscal balance is important, and then you will get to a point where you can actually deal with these big immovable spending. I look at it the way a family does. When you have a fiscal excess in your family, you don’t start with the big stuff. You start with the entertainment and the out to eat budget. And then you start to think about, all right, let’s refi the mortgage. I think that’s a credible political strategy that I think we would have more success with. And at the end of the day, I would just say the other side’s been tried, my side’s never been tried. Can we just try something else that hasn’t led us into a fiscal cul-de-sac?

Roberts: And it seems as if your comment about political capital being finite, which is so true, bears out here because if you follow this chronological approach, it’s incremental, but each step is incrementally harder. Not only are we building as a movement, but also as a country, which I think you’re begging for the muscle memory of having these subsequently harder conversations. But the political leaders on the right who are willing to message on that and genuinely govern that way while their political capital is finite if they just put it on the shelf, because there’s a half life there, they actually can accrue more because of increasing trust with the American people and their colleagues. We haven’t tried that either.

Vought: Right. No, and I don’t think people should stop working on these things. We need paradigm shifting policies everywhere. The question is for those that are getting inserted into a live fire exercise as it pertains to the debt limit, and I’m suggesting that we prioritize it accordingly.

Roberts: So I’d hear from you Russell Vought, you’re at least cautiously optimistic that the debt limit issue is going to go well?

Vought: I’m optimistic.

Roberts: I mean [inaudible 00:18:04].

Vought: We live in D.C. where it’s environs and so you can’t be too-

Roberts: I’m not used to this level of optimism from you.

Vought: Yeah, as it pertains, I’d like where we sit today. A lot can go wrong. A thousand things can go wrong, but as of right now, I’m excited about where we are because of the power that we shifted. And it really was a power sharing agreement. We now have in some respects, coalition government in the House. The coalition of House conservatives have real power and that’s what I’m excited about.

Roberts: Is there a lesson or two, or more from your time at the Office of Management and Budget that’s been really helpful as you’ve helped shepherd many of our congressional leader friends through this process?

Vought: Well, I would say in coming from my time here and my time in OMB that I did learn that there are members there, I won’t say more, but there are a lot of members that if you arm them, they will be with you. And there is a fear in public office of being run over. So I like to tell people, we are going to push you into oncoming traffic, but we’re going to do everything we can to clear the first lane so that you don’t get run over. And that really was a lesson learned from OMB, is that you’ve got to give people the ability to know what they’re fighting for, get their mind wrapped around it and make it as safe as possible. And that’s one of the things that we try to do is we take on really tough cultural battles, but if the budget guy can do it, the spreadsheet guy can do it. I’m telling you, if you ran for office and got elected, you can do it too, and you’ll be fine.

Roberts: Follow up question about your time at OMB because this is something that I hear a lot. It’s a question of curiosity. I’m sure you get this a lot given your experience., And that is the converse of that, the opposite of that, sort of the bad side of being in a leadership role inside the administration. What’s the worst you saw from the administrative state?

Vought: Well, they’re constantly hiding the ball. And I saw, I had a pretty good window. My career staff were generally wanting to do what the president wanted to do in terms of cutting spending and things like that, efficiency. But in terms of the big paradigm shifts, cultural issues, things that are 50, 60 year problems, that this is the way the river’s been going, their minds just explode. They just can’t think at that plane.

And a good one would’ve been CRT. So we were tasked with eliminating CRT funding training throughout the federal government. And we had our head of HR come to our deputy and say, “What you need to know is that we are all committed anti racists.” At the time it wasn’t like the light bulb didn’t go out. But I get this new assignment, CRT from the president, I’m starting to do all the reading and now I realize that’s a technical term of a committed Marxist that is going to divide, as an activist, in whatever role they are to be awakened and to seek change in that policy process. And they said that to us.

And so that’s an example of what we saw increasingly as we had the right filters to see it. And you do got to have the right filters. You cannot, in the battling the deep state, in the administration state, you cannot have the view that most republican CEOs have, which is, “Well, I’m going to delegate and I’m not going to...” No, you can’t delegate everything. You got to micromanage the heck out of everything that is part of your agency or make sure that your right arms are. And that’s what we learned increasingly to do and be able to export that out to those that were willing at the agencies.

Roberts: Well, it’s that experience along with some other of your attributes that excites me, that you’re such a vital part of Project 2025, which is a conservative movement wide effort to prepare the next president, whoever he or she ends up being. And I’ll let you talk about the real nuts and bolts of that. But how does the promise of that thus far, we’re still a year and a half out, compare with your experience in the first years of the Trump administration, which was well-meaning with a wonderful leader, but I don’t think the movement was really prepared to prepare him for what he had to confront?

Vought: Yeah, what I learned is the level that is going on in the executive branch is so granular and so detailed that even our best outside organizations are generally not prepared to go that deep. And what I think you all are doing is changing that.

And when I got sworn in for the director, we had six months to go and the president said, “Russ, we need another term. We’re just figuring this out.” And he had been someone that was trying to get it done every single day. He’d come down and we knew what time he came down. And he had this ambition to get stuff done and a paradigm shifting approach that if it took him that long, it would take any mere mortal two terms.

And so what we’re trying to do in this project is to say, let’s take all the know-how that we have and build it into the actual plans so that an individual can show up on day one and do it, and have the policy, the process, and the politics all figured out. I know you’re going to get some excuse from the careers. I know it. We’re going to give you the answer to it. And we’re going to give the answer from someone who has sat in the role.

And a friend of mine, Bob Lighthizer, we used to sit waiting on this or that meeting. And he was a former deputy, got to do the role. And you have this, you know how to do this role better as a result of that. I spent 12 years of my life reading and thinking about being at OMB and then I finally got the job. We want to make it so that the people that are just competent, and committed, and are good managers have a chance to be able to be in these roles and to do it well.

And I just would commend you, Kevin, for creating a platform, kind of an arc within the conservative movement through your leadership to do this well. We’re all the boats of Dunkirk, and we have a lot of our own organizational entities and priorities, but you’ve created a situation that we want to be on that arc that you are building, and to do everything we can to make it a success. And I really believe that’s a credit to you and what you’re building at Heritage.

Roberts: You’re kind. It is a team effort. And all I know, and I really mean this, is the need. And as I was beginning doing some policy work in D.C. when I was at Texas Public Policy Foundation, that’s when you and I met, we have a lot of mutual friends. Y’all have forgotten more than I’ll ever know about being in administration. But being someone who listens well, I knew that was a gigantic gap.

And knowing what Heritage can offer in terms of convening power, we certainly don’t have all of the answers. Our most brilliant policy leads would say that. I think I can say just as a movement conservative, take my Heritage hat off for a minute, that I’m really proud of the movement, you, so many people, dozens of people who are part of this.

And of course we need to win the election. And of course we’re counting on whoever the president is to accept this and not to sound like we have any hubris on behalf of 2025 because it’s up to that man or that woman and his or her advisors. It seems as if this is such a well orchestrated project, very deep in substance, I’ll ask you a follow up question about that in a minute, that it’s almost a slam dunk, that at least some version of this is going to be the governing plan.

But on the point of a follow up question, is there a policy, solution, or proposal in this book which is going to be put out imminently, that you’re most interested in, you’re most excited about?

Vought: Well, I think one that’s gotten a lot of press is Schedule F. And Schedule F was something that materialized at the end of the administration that the president did to be able to say that if you’re working on policy for the president, you’re an at will employee. And we implemented it or we’re on the cusp of implementing it. And it was like, the level of discord within our agency was high, but it’s going to be groundbreaking. And to basically put this with the imprimatur of Heritage, say, “This is an expectation that we have,” is going to be big.

But those are the kinds of things that are systemic wide, that chapter by chapter, it gives the transition an opportunity to say, “Look, the, it’s the wrong man or the woman if they’re not willing to go along with these recommendations.” Because I’ve been a part of the chapter building and it’s been movement wide. And even when there’s a disagreement on something, you’ve kind of provided both approaches. And I think that’s the right way because what’s critical for this, we could all spend our next two years of our life doing this, if the candidate that who wins doesn’t use it, there’s a huge problem. And so we’ve got to figure out, and I think we’re on the road to doing this, to making it so that we are focusing the way they are on the most credible threats to the country. And I think I’ve seen that in the book.

Roberts: Good. And one follow up question on that before moving on to the work that the Center for Renewing America focuses on, and that is for someone in the audience who’s entertaining the thought of tithing a couple years, four years, maybe longer to the Republic by working in the administration, what advice do you have for them right now?

Vought: To do it. We are not going to save our country if you’re not willing to get in the game. And I got into politics really at the tail end of my senior year. I’ve had some time to do an elective and I read Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s letter and papers from prison, which had a definition of responsibility, which is not armchair criticism, but actually getting, and sitting, and engaging, and making mistakes, but being willing to accomplish all that you can because that moment has been given to you by God.

And so that person that’s thinking through and they’re tired of watching Fox News, and they’re tired of watching and reading and being frustrated, they have a chance to help us save the country. And they will be prepared if they are doing the right things to get ready for that moment, hitting the books, figuring out where they could be useful, having a game plan, thinking through learning as much as you possibly can. We talked about it in the Sentinel program, know, grow, and go. Know the issues, the policy, the process, the politics, grow your network of influence, get in the game, and then go out and lead and save the country. And if a thousand people do that, we’re going to save the country.

Roberts: It’s that simple.

Vought: Yeah, it is that simple. And people are going to school board meetings knowing the cost that they are going to bear to defend their kids. They’re going to get called the names. If you’re going to step into the arena on behalf of the next administration, you’re going to get called a bigot like I did when Senator Sanders went after me. You’re going to get called an appeaser if you question the foreign policy regime. Look, that’s the way they play. It’s okay. You have a whole army out there, the country that loves you, and cares about you, and supports you. Go out there and save your country, come what may. And we will save this country.

Roberts: Tell us about the work of CRA.

Vought: Yeah, CRA is, we are trying to pick big national issue fights on the most strategically cultural issues. And my view is that we’ve been too secular, too imperialistic, and I got to be careful how I say this, too individualistic in the sense of being too libertarian, in that we love our individual freedoms, but what are those freedoms in the context of bad communities and unjust laws?

And so we’re always trying to regain and pick big new paradigms in those areas that help us to seize the moral high ground and actually win. So that’s critical race theory, big tech reform, which you guys have been fantastic in, or providing a new concept of how to deal with the border. It’s an invasion. There are constitutional tools because you’re willing to call an invasion that don’t exist if you’re in federal immigration law. That’s a paradigm shift that’s going to get you called a racist. Those are the types of issues that we like to focus on. And then we’re like that part of the movement that picks a fight. And then we call up and we say, “Hey, we picked a fight. Can you guys help us out?”

Roberts: I’ve gotten that call a couple times.

Vought: That’s right.

Roberts: The answer’s always yes.

Vought: Exactly.

Roberts: Yeah. You know what stuck in my mind is this metaphor. I guess I will never forget this as long as I live. We’re going to push you into oncoming traffic and try to clear the lane. It’s kind of morbid, but I do find it funny. We need more Americans willing to take that chance, but also with the confidence in friends that we’re going to be there. And that’s what CRA does for sure.

Last question, we’ll have you back many times over the years, but for today, in spite of all of the reasons for optimistic Americans to feel like America’s best days are behind us, why did you wake up this morning optimistic about the future?

Vought: Because I work as part of a team and a movement that has put a lot on the line and has sacrificed other things that they could be doing to try to save the country. And they’re hard at work. And I know based on the fact that we travel the country and we work with a lot of people who are volunteering across the country, that they’re doing the same thing. And all of those people are statesmen. And their ability to get up, and be in the arena, and be active when they could be watching a sports show gives me great hope.

But ultimately, it comes down to what I said a little bit earlier, Kevin. I look back, I’m a huge fan of Whittaker Chambers. Whittaker Chambers said in the 1950s, “When the right begins to become martyrs and understand that there is great risk and they’re going to have to absorb that risk and plow through it, then we’re going to be able to save the country.” And until they do that, we’re wasting our time.

And we’re seeing that. We’re seeing the guy that’s the school teacher that knows he’s going to lose his job the next day. He knows it. He goes in the school board meeting and stands for the definition of what is a male and a woman, and plows through that. And that’s why I’m optimistic, because I think 10 years ago we were fighting about premiums in Obamacare, and that was a really important fight. No one was losing their job the next day by going to that meeting. Now the water’s getting hotter, it’s starting to boil. But we have statesmen here in DC and across the country that know what time it is and how to be statesmen. And I think that’s going to be something that saves the country. And I got two girls as well, 11 and 9. It keeps it real.

Roberts: Yeah, 11 and 9. That’ll keep you optimistic. Well Russell Vought, thanks for being here. Thanks for being one of the great patriots of our age. And thanks for being a great friend.

Vought: That you for having me.

Roberts: I hope you enjoyed that as much as I did. I know you enjoyed that as much as I did. I told you that we would get into some substance with a little bit of verve.

Thanks for joining us this week. Stay tuned because next week we will talk as well about why we need to be optimistic about the future of America. Take care.

The Kevin Roberts Show is brought to you by more than half a million members of The Heritage Foundation. The executive producer is Crystal Kate Bonham. The producer is Philip Reynolds. Sound design by Lauren Evans, Mark Guiney, and Tim Kennedy

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