7 Challenges Policymakers Must Address

Heritage Explains

7 Challenges Policymakers Must Address

The Heritage Foundation and Heritage Action are fighting to save America. Conservatives must set the agenda, earn a mandate for that agenda, and govern accordingly.

The Heritage Foundation recently announced a set of strategic policy priorities (the big issues) that will form the roadmap for conservatives over the next three years. These will shape discussion throughout D.C., the media, and the United States. On this episode, we talk with Noah Weinrich from Heritage Action for America. He takes us through recent polling that shows there is bi-partisan agreement on way more issues than the mainstream media will let you know, and why Heritage's conservative priorities are the priorities of Americans on both sides of the aisle.  

Tim Doescher: Hit it hit it, hit it. John Popp. Man, we were jamming out before starting production. John, I wish they could all be here to see it happen. It's pretty fun, isn't it?

John Popp: Oh yeah.

Doescher: John's always regaling us with stories. He's been in the conservative fight for a long time and he's always got the right story at the right time. But anyway, I was looking through show preparation things and I came across several articles talking about why it's important, John, to leave comments and rate the show that you're listening to.

Popp: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Doescher: Yeah. And I was like, "Okay, well, why is it important?" I always say it's because it helps position us better in ratings and things like that. But the most important thing that I saw was because it helps people understand what we're about and what they will expect to hear if they listen to it. So I would love it if all of you would go rate us five stars, if you like the show. If you don't like the show, well, you of us an honest rating, that's fine. But we love to read the comments. We love to see the ratings. And if you want to email us, you can hit us up at managingeditor@heritage.org. You can go ahead and do it now before the show starts. But other than that, Johnny or John Popp, start the show.

>>> Heritage Foundation Seven Strategic Priority Issues 

Doescher: From The Heritage Foundation, I'm Tim Doescher. And this is Heritage Explains. The Heritage Foundation recently announced a set of strategic policy priorities. Now these are the big issues, the ones that will form the roadmap for conservatives over the next three years. Now, hear this list and see if it doesn't resonate, you ready? School choice, big tech, China, inflation, abortion, immigration, and election integrity.

Doescher: One of the biggest complaints we hear when we travel all around the U.S., is that Washington D.C. is out of touch with America. It's not the real world. We hear all the time about longing for bipartisan solutions to our major issues, especially the ones listed above. But the media narrative is that we are a divided nation that can't agree on anything. Is that true? Do you know about Heritage Action for America? They lobby for and track throughout DC and the states conservative policy solutions that The Heritage Foundation produces. They are the action that helps turn conservative ideas into law.

Doescher: Now, they recently conducted in-depth polling on the policy issues above, and we found one key thing in particular, a stunning bipartisan majority of Americans agree on way more than the mainstream media lets us know. So this week Heritage Action communications director, Noah Weinrich, joins us to break down the polling numbers and explains why heritage priorities are America's priorities.

Doescher: The good stuff happens right after this.

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Doescher: Noah from Heritage Action, thank you so much for being here.

Noah Weinrich: Of course, thanks for having me.

Doescher: Now, we are talking about these seven issues, these seven key priority issues that we have as Heritage, and I was struck by the polling that you guys have done, which is really helpful because it allows us to see, as a an organization we say, "We're going to focus on these. These are important." But then it gives us an insight into where Americans are on these issues. It's a really interesting contrast, I think.

>>> Heritage Action for America Polling Results Explains on Seven Priority Issues 

Weinrich: Yeah, exactly. We don't want to be led by polling as too many people in DC are, but we want to make sure that we know what the country is thinking about. What they think of our policies, where we are in agreement and where we have work to do. And we are confident that our policies are backed up by the American people. The American people get it. They know that there's a crisis on the border. They are concerned about inflation. They get it. Too many D.C. elites are out of touch with the people. And we think that our priorities align with the vision that most Americans want.

Doescher: You say that the D.C. elites thing. And I think that that is exactly what I want our audience to keep in mind as we do this interview. Let's remember this isn't a curated thing that D.C. is using to try and shape opinion. Rush Lim used to talk about, "Do polls reflect opinion or are they intended to shape opinion?" And it does us no good to use this poll to shape opinion.

Doescher: So we try to get into the deep data that reflect people's views here in America. So if you wouldn't mind, I want to just go issue by issue.

Weinrich: Yeah.

Doescher: And, this isn't Democrat versus Republican. I don't think so, but I'll have you explain kind of just how the divides go here. So let's just go issue by issue. Give me the top lines in outliers for each of them. We're going to start with school choice.

Weinrich: Great.

Doescher: What I took away was people are open to it, but then there's also a contrast with the union. So debunk that a little bit.

Weinrich: Right. Right. So what we see in school choice, when we ask about school choice, when we talk about school choice, some parents don't know what it is. Some people have misconceptions about it. Some people buy into what the left says, but we wanted to see what people truly think about school choice. So we didn't ask just, "Do you like school choice? Or do you think parents should have a role in their kids' education?" Which obviously most people are going to agree with. We wanted to pit the best conservative argument against what the left believes is their best argument.

Weinrich: So we asked, "Some people say that parents of school-aged children should have a role in deciding what is taught in public schools." And we also asked, "Other people say that teachers and education experts, not parents, should decide what children learn in our public schools." So we asked respondents to choose between the two. And 50% of respondents said that parents should have a role. Only 33% said that experts should be, or teachers should be the ones driving what's taught in schools. So this isn't overwhelming, but it is decisive.

Doescher: So it lends to the whole debate that we see happening on talk radio and on MSNBC saying, "Oh, these parents are saying they should be the ones in charge and take that power away from the teachers." That's kind of what we're landing to right now?

Weinrich: Yeah, exactly. And when you look into the poll, parents of school-aged children are more likely to believe that parents should have the deciding role.

Doescher: Okay.

Weinrich: It's easy for somebody, a congressional staffer in D.C. who doesn't have any kids who says that experts should say what's happening in schools. But by and large, we see parents want parents to have a role. Americans want Americans and parents to decide what's happening in their schools.

Doescher: What about, on an issue like critical race theory? I mean, that was a huge issue. I mean, an election here in Virginia close by was basically decided on that. How is that being reflected?

Weinrich: Right. So critical race theory is a big driver of this. We've seen critical race theory become really politicized. You see across a lot of polls, people are kind of split on critical race theory because the mainstream media and the left says that critical race theory is a panic and that it's not being taught in public schools. They say that the right is saying, "Oh, we don't want to teach history." Which, of course, is false.

Weinrich: But what we see is that once you educate people about what critical race theory is, how terrible it is, we've done focus groups in Georgia, suburban families, black voters, et cetera. Once you educate them about what critical race theory is, how divisive it is, people swing the other way. And they say, "Oh, I didn't realize how bad critical race theory is." And you see just huge margins of people opposing critical race theory. They don't want it in their schools. They believe in the American dream, not dividing students based on their skin color.

Doescher: So even though the polling shows we're divided on that issue in particular, we see that if we educate, which is our job, then people are going to come along to realize how damaging critical race theory. Okay.

Weinrich: Yeah. Exactly.

Doescher: That's great. Let's move on to the next issue that we talked about, which was of course, big tech. And I'm going to tell you, Noah, when I looked at these numbers, I saw that we picked an issue. That for whatever reason, whether we agree or concur, which means to agree, but for a different reason-

Weinrich: Right. Right.

Doescher: ... it seems like across the political spectrum, we are aligned pretty well. Give us some top liners on big tech.

Weinrich: Yeah. So big tech is one of these issues that there's broad bipartisan, nonpartisan support for. Wide majority of Americans, Democrats, Republicans, Independents, liberals, moderates, conservatives, everywhere across the country, people recognize big tech is a problem. 65% of Americans believe that Congress has done a poor job of regulating these companies. And the numbers are really sky high when you get into the details.

Weinrich: 82% of Americans believe big tech companies have too much power over their platforms and have used it to expand their control of the public debate and shape our politics. That's 82%.

Doescher: That's insane.

Weinrich: I mean, it's tough to find numbers like these on any issue. This is a majority of Democrats, majority of Republicans, majority of conservatives, liberals, they all recognize big tech has too much power and it's using it to shape the political discourse.

Doescher: Well, let me ask you then. I mean, and we're not here to necessarily talk in depth about solutions, but we asked about it. And I'm curious is, how are we seeing it? Are we seeing people saying, "Well, we need to break them up. We need to use antitrust to break them up. Or, "We need to pass laws through Congress." How are people responding to how we fix this problem?

Weinrich: Yeah. Yeah. That's a great question. On newer issues like this, issues that have really popped up in the last few years, you see people who know that big tech is a problem, but they may not know what the solution is. Or there may be more divisions on exactly what the solution is. So there's broad agreement, 86% agree that we need Section 230 reform.

Weinrich: If you're not familiar, that means this is the question we asked, big tech companies should be held liable under the same laws as

Doescher: Yeah. Yeah.

Weinrich: Common sense solution.

Doescher: And we've talked about 230 on the podcast before. It just basically provides a shield for these big tech companies to basically either put up or remove any kind of content that they see fit.

Weinrich: Yeah.

Doescher: And that's a huge protection. It's a very a big thing. And so it's interesting that we went with that. Any other standouts on big tech?

Weinrich: Yeah. You know, we asked about more solutions, whether Congress should regulate them or Congress should pursue antitrust or just leave it to the states. And around 40% of people wanted antitrust, around 40% wanted regulation, only about 6% wanted the states to handle it. So people want-

Doescher: It's divided. Huh?

Weinrich: Yeah. They want something to happen in Congress. They're not sure what, but something they want to happen.

Doescher: Interesting. Awesome. Well, I know this next issue, I think is sort of tracking along with big tech where we have a large amount of people agreeing. Which again, I think it's important to point out this is not a bunch of Republicans or conservatives agreeing with each other, this is across the political spectrum and this issue is China. What are we seeing with China?

Weinrich: Yeah. So China is similar. We see bipartisan agreement and consensus that Congress has done a terrible job, first of all. 64% disapprove of Congress's job on China. We've seen in other polls, they disapprove of Biden's response. 74% believe that China's military threat is a real threat to America. These are huge numbers. 86% believe that China is in direct conflict with Western values. The list goes on and on. People believe China is our number one international threat and they believe Congress needs to do more about it.

Doescher: Wow.

Weinrich: Yeah.

Doescher: Well, talk just a little bit more about this because as we continue to, I mean, we have been, especially here on Explains, we try and talk about China as much as possible because you know, Michelle and I believe that it is probably the biggest issue that stands against America being great, both here domestically and throughout the world.

Doescher: What are some of those things? Do you think Americans are fully in tune with the Confucius Institutes where they have a part of American college curriculum, basically.

Weinrich: Right. Right.

Doescher: And they're indoctrinating our students with pro China propaganda. We've done episodes on Hollywood basically writing their scripts with China in mind. China is buying land all over America. This is a hugest... Now, are Americans hip to that or is this basically what they're seeing just through news reports and things like that?

Weinrich: I think they're getting there. I think people generally, they may not know the details of Confucius Institutes, but they're smart people. They see what's happening. They see what's happening here with Confucius Institutes, Hollywood censoring itself, China stealing intellectual property from American companies. Not to mention what's happening over there. I mean, you have genocide, you have prison camps. You have the worst human rights abuses we've seen in decades. And Americans get that. DC may not get that, they still don't understand that China is an existential threat, but Americans, real Americans totally get it.

Doescher: Yeah. Let's move on to inflation, hitting us all in the pocket book. You've been out to restaurants here in the D.C. area. It is not the same as it used to be in terms of the pocket book. It's always been expensive, but now it's insane.

Weinrich: Right.

Doescher: What are Americans feeling and thinking about inflation?

Weinrich: I mean, inflation is the number one issue. This isn't just in our polling, it's in every poll you see. Inflation and the economy are the top issue. Everybody's worried, everybody understands it's happening, it's growing. For months the Biden administration was saying, "It's transitory. It's not real inflation. It's just a comeback from COVID." Now they've shifted to, "This is a Putin price hike." But of course, we saw before the invasion, 7.4% inflation. So I think Americans get that that's ridiculous.

Weinrich: They're pretty divided on whether it's solely Biden's fault or if it's a supply chain issue. Of course there's some truth to both of that. It's largely Biden's fault, but there're supply chain issues. But we see in other polls, their disapproval of Biden on the issue of inflation, it's in the sixties or seventies. So again, the story that we see is real Americans versus DC. DC doesn't think there's a problem. You see all these pieces from mainstream media about, "The economy's great. Why are people complaining?"

Weinrich: And then people are having to pay $5 for gas, or $7 if you're in California. Real Americans understand the economy's not doing great. It's a problem for them and their family.

Doescher: Imagine that. All you have to do is leave DC and you'll figure that out-

Weinrich: Yeah, exactly.

Doescher: ... very quickly.

Weinrich: Right. Right.

Doescher: And of course, we all understand inflation, all we got to do is look at our bank account. Let's move on to an issue that I think has really changed over the last decade as we see Millennials and Gen Z having a different opinion than the preceding generations. That's abortion.

Weinrich: Yeah.

Doescher: How are we seeing abortion poll in terms of perceptions by Americans?

Weinrich: Yeah. Abortion is an interesting issue because it's a very complex issue. It's not cut and dry. Something like China, you're going to see a lot of pretty straightforward opinions, but people have nuanced views of abortion. Sometimes they're intention. But what we see is on certain aspects of the abortion debate, there is broad consensus. Asking about 15 week abortion limitations, protecting unborn lives after 15 weeks, 65% of Americans believe that it is wrong to allow abortion after 15 weeks when unborn babies can suck their thumb and feel pain.

Weinrich: 65% agree that we should protect unborn lives after that. Only 26% disagree. And those who identify as strongly pro-choice are split 50/50 on this. So there are nuances to this debate, but there's broad agreement that when a child can feel pain, suck its thumbs, grow fingernails, those lives should be protected.

Doescher: And the best part about, as we continue to push just how horrible abortion is, especially when it gets later down the road. We have the technology now to back us up.

Weinrich: Yeah.

Doescher: As science continues to improve, we're able to see the fingernail. We're able to see the baby sucking a thumb. And I think that that might be where some of this movement is coming from.

Weinrich: Yeah.

Doescher: I mean, it's really amazing to see the ultrasounds and things like that happen now and come to get more and more and more compelling and dynamic the pictures that we see.

Weinrich: Yeah. I mean, my wife and I went in for our first ultrasound almost a year ago. And my first thought was, this is incredible. That's our son. My second thought was how could anyone see this and think that abortion is okay. You see your child moving around sucking its thumb. I think it was eight weeks. And it's unbelievable that anyone could [inaudible 00:19:20] not only abortion at that stage, but abortion months later.

Doescher: Yeah. Well, I think, again, Americans, especially the younger generations are hip to this. They're wisening up. I don't think didn't think that's a word. But as we-

Weinrich: You can make it a word.

Doescher: We're going to make it a word. Darn it. Yes, absolutely. Let's move from abortion onto immigration. And this is huge now with Title 42 happening, the Southern border, border agents on horses, all the stuff that we see in the media, which creates a narrative. Again, it's a D.C. narrative versus the rest of America. What are we seeing on immigration?

Weinrich: Yeah. Again, you're going to see Americans disapproving of what Congress has done on this. 64%. Same number as for China. 64% disapprove, 52% strongly disapprove of the job they've done, on the border. And what's been more, it's not just people blaming Democrats. They've actually recognized that Biden is the source and that the solution is going back to President Trump's immigration laws.

Weinrich: 65% of Independents, folks in the middle, say that President Biden needs to reinstate some of President Trump's previous immigration laws.

Doescher: Wow.

Weinrich: These are things like the Remain in Mexico policy. These are things like Title 42. It's common sense. This is the worst border crisis America has ever seen. Anyone paying attention knows that. And anyone paying attention knows that the root cause is in Washington.

Doescher: Hmm. And again, that is across the political spectrum. 65%.

Weinrich: Yeah.

Doescher: Wow. That is so compelling.

Weinrich: Yeah.

Doescher: And yet we see it so polarized on TV.

Weinrich: Right. Yeah, it's remarkable. I mean, the numbers for all Americans are 61 to 15 saying President Biden should reinstate Trump's policies.

Doescher: Wow.

Weinrich: You have a majority of liberals saying that President Biden should reinstate some Trump policies, which is pretty incredible.

Doescher: Hmm. I'm curious, was there a question that involved federal government responsibility versus state government responsibility? Was there was in terms of enforcement, if the federal government is going to do it, should states... I'm curious, was there anything like that?

Weinrich: Yeah. So what we've seen is people believe that states should be doing what they can on enforcement, you know, places like Texas, but they shouldn't have to. We asked, "Is it the job of the federal government, not the states, to protect and control our borders? Is the current crisis of illegal immigration Biden's responsibility?" Three quarters said yes. Three out of four Americans said, "Yes, it is on the federal government. It is on President Biden."

Weinrich: Governor Abbott is working at the border to secure it, doing what he can, but he shouldn't have two. Americans get that.

Doescher: Wow.

Weinrich: It is on President Biden. He wanted this job and he can't get out of it.

Doescher: Wow. Let's move on to the last issue. Election integrity. We've done a lot of coverage on that. H.R.1, H.R.4, H.R. eternity. And Heritage Action has been diamonds on this issue, especially in Georgia Around the country. So with that in mind with 2020, the controversy there, now we have 2022 elections coming up. And right around the corner is the next presidential election in 2024. What are we seeing with election integrity around the country?

Weinrich: That is a great question. States are across the nation have strengthened their election integrity laws over the last two years, the last two state legislative sessions. Heritage Action has done a ton of work on that. We have a whole Save Our Elections campaign, working in these states to help them strengthen and secure their election systems.

Weinrich: We're seeing some real success. States are moving right it up on Heritage's election integrity scorecard. There's still more work to do. But the nice thing is that Americans are seeing past the left's myths. There was this whole disinformation campaign last year, Stacy Abrams, Joe Biden, called the called Georgia's Voter Law. Jim Crow, 2.0. They said that it was racist to require photo IDs to vote. But the American people see through that. 79% say, "Yeah, you should have to have a voter ID to vote."

Doescher: Wait. 79% of America say you should have an ID to vote?

Weinrich: Yes. 79%. That includes a majority of Hispanics, majority of black voters, majority of old voters, young voters, everybody gets it. Yeah, it's common sense. You need an ID [crosstalk 00:23:57]

Doescher: We shouldn't be surprised by that. Not [crosstalk 00:23:59]

Weinrich: Right. Right. No one should be surprised. You need an ID to get into a movie, to fly on a plane, to everything.

Doescher: Yes. Yeah. It should be 98%, but still it's compelling, you know?

Weinrich: Right. Right.

Doescher: That's amazing. What else are we seeing? I mean, in terms of how about these laws that are being proposed here in DC and debated H.R.1, H.R.4? Let's turn all election rules over to the Department of Justice.

Weinrich: Right.

Doescher: How are people viewing that?

Weinrich: They don't like it.

Doescher: Okay, great.

Weinrich: They realize that these laws are giving more power to DC elites. They're giving more power to these unelected bureaucrats. They're taking power away from we, the people, taking it away from their states, away from their politically accountable representatives, giving it to lifelong D.C. bureaucrats. 64% believe that switching the US election system from state run to federal run, will create more corruption because the power will reside with DC elite.

Doescher: That's 64%.

Weinrich:  64%. Yeah. Only 26% disagree and Democrats are split.

Doescher: Wow.

Weinrich: Yeah. It's a pretty remarkable number.

Doescher: I mean, all of these categories are so... The term that everybody loves here in D.C. is bipartisan.

Weinrich: Right. Right.

Doescher: It's so just across the aisle, these are the things that we need to be... We need to focus on bipartisanship.

Weinrich: Right.

Doescher: It's a dying age, dying breed here in D.C.

Weinrich: Right.

Doescher: And yet here's this polling with these critical issues that's reflecting bipartisanship.

Weinrich: Yeah. If you want to bipartisan gender, then you take on China, you take on big tech, you fix the border and you require photo ID. That is a bipartisan popular agenda.

Doescher: Awesome. Well, Noah, thank you so much for coming in. It was just great to catch up and go through these polls.

Weinrich: Of course. Absolutely. Thanks, Tim.

Doescher: And thanks so much for listening to Heritage Explains. Now, there's a lot of material that we link to in the show notes, a lot of stuff that we covered in the episode, it's kind of like Christmas presents under a Christmas tree. You got to unwrap to enjoy.

Doescher: So head to the show notes and start tearing off that wrapping paper. If you've got questions, we've got answers. Send us an email at managingeditor@heritage.org and we will respond. Look forward to seeing you next episode. I'll catch you then.

Heritage Explains is brought to you by more than half a million members of The Heritage Foundation. It is produced by Michelle Cordero and Tim Doescher with editing by John Popp.