What This Election Day Means for Conservatives

Heritage Explains

What This Election Day Means for Conservatives

On this special episode, president of The Heritage Foundation, Kevin Roberts talks about possible election outcomes and what this election means for conservatives.

Michelle Cordero: From The Heritage Foundation, I'm Michelle Cordero, and this is a special episode of Heritage Explains. Tomorrow's the big day, midterm election day, and there's a lot at stake. So what are the biggest issues and who do we think is likely to win and why? Today we have a very special guest to discuss, president of the Heritage Foundation, Dr. Kevin Roberts, and our conversation starts now. Dr. Roberts, thank you so much for joining us.

Dr. Kevin Roberts: Michelle, it's great to be with you here in person.

Cordero: Okay. So what is your outlook on the election? What do you think is going to happen?

Roberts: As a lifelong movement conservative, I am very optimistic that election day will be important for our movement. It's not that I don't entirely lack care about party affiliation, I do, but leading a nonpartisan entity, I speak as a conservative. What's far more important to me isn't even the number of seats that the Republicans will pick up in the House. It'll be at least a few dozen. It isn't that I think that the Republicans will pick up the Senate, which I think they will do. It's that the people who are coming in as the new members of the House and the Senate are strident conservatives who want to take this country back. That's why I'm so excited.

Cordero: All right. So then what are some of those things that we want them to tackle? What are the biggest things at stake when it comes to these results?

Roberts: Turn off the spigot of spending. Start cutting spending, number one. That will address inflation. Number two, demand that the Biden administration stop the war against American energy. That is not only directly related to inflation, but it's also directly related to human flourishing. Three, close the southern border, really mean it. Impeach the Secretary of Homeland Security if he doesn't resign before then. And four, tackle rising crime. Our colleagues at Heritage in the last week have issued a report that is stunning, both in its academic integrity, but stunning also in how bad a picture it paints for people in almost every major American city where homicide rates are on the rise. If the conservative majority in the House and Senate tackled just those things in the first half of 2023, we will be back on track in this country, and I think we could be optimistic about the rest of the decade.

Cordero: Okay. On the flip side, let's say things should take a turn for the worse and Republicans find themselves without as much power as they had hoped to gain. What is your message for conservatives then?

Roberts: Fight like hell. This country is still worth saving. If we're going to take the House, the conservatives will be in charge of the House. I would bet every dollar to my name, literally. That's how confident I am. And I'm excited because it's conservative, not because it's capital R Republican. The Senate is an open question. Those races are razor thin. I just think that things have really broken the way of conservatives. But let's just say that the margin in the House is narrower and that the Senate is not in Republican hands, you still have been given a mandate by the American people to directly challenge the President of the United States who is the worst in our history. I don't mean that in a gratuitous, hyperbolic way. He is the worst in our history.

Roberts: And if you do that for the American people, you give them hope because what all of us, Michelle are going to have to do over the next year plus is fight through historically high levels of inflation. We're going to have to fight through an administration that wants us to pay more for gas and diesel at the pump. They want us to be less powerful in the world. If all the Republicans do is have a slim but very cohesive majority in the US House, then I actually think they're going to give the American people hope to get to the next presidential election. Not that the world begins and ends with elections, but we are living through the reality that elections do matter.

Cordero: So you say we gain the House, we gain the Senate, and then we start to see little bits of uptick that let people know this is the way.

Roberts: That's right. And historically, because after all, I am a historian, including of American politics, government spending tends to go down with divided government. And so at Heritage, we've celebrated that for a long time. Obviously, we have so many things to fix. We haven't even talked about education yet. But mostly if the night just doesn't go as well as we were thinking, what I'm trying to say is that we should not think that all is lost. We should know that we are going to adhere to what I like to say is radical incrementalism. Let's go get the victories we can. Let's continue to be transparent to the people who sent us to DC about what we're going to do when you give us more power, more power, not to pat ourselves on the back and to go to parties in DC that are affiliated with whichever political party, but power to do the work of the people, which is conservative governance.

Cordero: Okay. So just last week, President Biden gave a speech about how so-called MAGA Republicans are a threat to democracy, and his speech was clearly timed in a way to sway votes, bringing back sentiments from January 6th. What do you think about Biden's message to America?

Roberts: I mean this as a historian, as a father of four, as someone who wishes the best for this country, even when there's a liberal Democrat in the White House, I've never seen a more divisive speech. I've never seen a more divisive presidential administration. I've never seen a president of the United States more deserving of our scorn and ridicule, frankly, every day. And it pains me to say that because I grew up at a time when, of course, sometimes there were presidents my family didn't agree with, didn't vote for. You still respected them.

Cordero: Right.

Roberts: I have zero respect for him.

Cordero: Yeah

Roberts: And unfortunately, tens of millions of Americans after that speech realize what they've done. Thankfully, it's still America and Americans know better. And in our communities, our neighborhoods, we get along for the most part. And I think whoever is the standard bearer for conservatives in 2024, whoever he or she is, that person is going to speak so aspirationally about the American future. This country will begin a long overdue healing process.

Cordero: Dr. Roberts, I don't know who coined this term, but you are such a happy warrior. Have you heard that before?

Roberts: I have heard that for many years, and at least as it relates to me, that's just a gift from above. And I think I'm happy every day because I get to wake up in this great country, and I believe in the American people.

Cordero: Amen.

Roberts: Democrats, Republicans, I mean especially the conservatives. And I think also because I get to walk into this building at Heritage every day where there are a lot of happy warriors.

Cordero: All right. In conclusion, on a personal note, where do you usually watch election results and where will you be tomorrow night?

Roberts: Gosh, I have been an election result watching geek for a long time, and my favorite spot to do that is in my favorite recliner with my wife and kids around me. And we're all kind of political junkies, and I usually have calls coming in, I still have a landline, I'm an old guy from family. I've got texts coming in on cell phone, and it ends up being,

Cordero: Do you have multi screens?

Roberts: Yeah, definitely. I've got multi computers going on, a couple of different kids checking different results, because we've lived in a lot of states. I'm going to do that tomorrow though it'll be later in the evening because we have this great event here at Heritage, and I'll probably pop in, probably brew a late pot of coffee to stay awake and do a little bit of media. But when I'm driving home late tomorrow, my wife and kids will be waiting because we sort of have this custom, regardless of how the election goes. We're also, I will just end on this if I may. The federal elections are really important, but we're really interested in what's going on in our community in Northern Virginia with a really important congressional race. And we'll be checking in places where we used to live in Texas and Wyoming who have some really important local races. It's really important for conservatives to remember, we're going to take this country back, not just because of what happens in elections for offices in DC, but most importantly because we're starting to pay attention to local races of our school boards and city councils.

Cordero: Absolutely. I'm excited to bring the kids with me tomorrow to go vote.

Roberts: That's going to be awesome.

Cordero: It is. All right. Well, thank you so much for joining us and we'll look forward to tomorrow night. If you haven't heard the Daily Signal Heritage Action and The Heritage Foundation will have a live show exclusively on Gutter at 8:00 PM Eastern Standard Time. We hope to see you there. And that's it for Heritage Explains.

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.