WASHINGTON—Heritage Foundation President Kevin Roberts joined the “Newt’s World” podcast Sunday to discuss how Heritage will go on offense in 2022, engage with state leaders, and advance a policy agenda that includes safeguarding America’s elections at home and confronting China abroad. Click here to listen.
Hosted by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, the popular podcast regularly features leaders who are taking on America’s biggest issues. Roberts, who became Heritage’s president Dec. 1, shared the story of his journey to Washington, D.C., beginning with the founding of John Paul the Great Academy in Lafayette, Louisiana, and including leadership roles at Wyoming Catholic College and the Texas Public Policy Foundation.
Roberts shared his vision for Heritage, outlined in a recent essay called “Tomorrow’s Heritage,” which drew accolades from Gingrich.
“I think we need precisely the kind of revitalized Heritage you’re talking about,” Gingrich said. “I remember working with [Heritage founder Ed] Feulner in the early years of Heritage. ... It would’ve been absurd to have suggested that Heritage was somehow going to change history, but because of visionary leadership, Heritage changed history. And I think you are being called to the same opportunity.”
Below are some of the highlights from Roberts’ interview with Gingrich.
Roberts on safeguarding America’s elections:
“If we don’t get elections right … in the United States, then all of the work that we’re doing is for naught. … I’m very concerned about what happened in the 2020 election. By that, I mean the process at the state, county, and precinct level of how votes were counted. …
“That’s why Heritage put that Election Integrity Scorecard together. … I think it is the most important research study that Heritage has published at least in the last 10 years. … It speaks to the moment we’re in, but it also becomes a lever for grassroots people, for groups on the ground to go to their state legislators, to go to their chief election officers and show them, this is an unbiased study. It is impeccably researched, triply impervious to attacks and say, ‘This is how our state election laws have to be fixed.’”
Roberts on critical race theory:
“What critical race theory does is define us by an immutable characteristic, and that’s the color of our skin. And then worse, assign, categorize people into oppressors and the oppressed. And if you think about it, as a fellow historian, Newt, I literally get chills. Sometimes I’m even brought to tears every time that I read or listen to or watch Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. We have accomplished the charge that he gave us to judge one another by the content of our character, not the color of our skin.
“And what critical race theory does is undermine that, starting with pre-K kids, where you’re telling a black child that they cannot be friends with a white child. Those two children, these four-year-olds, know that is not true. And I think that even, more than any academic analysis I could give you, we ought to condemn it.
“I’m really grateful that Americans realized this is not America, and we’re making tremendous progress at rooting this out. But it does raise larger questions about some of the curricula that are in our schools. The problem is not just with critical race theory, it’s with the indoctrination generally, especially in government-funded schools.”
Roberts on advancing school choice:
“We can’t stop with just ending the instruction of critical race theory in our schools. We have to understand that critical race theory being in our curricula is indicative of a much greater sickness in government-funded schools. And it is that parents and their children are not in charge of their education.
“Think of the arrogance of teacher union leaders in saying they, not parents, are in charge of kids. This is the point. We have to harness the energy of hundreds of thousands of parents around this country, and finally get universal school choice in every state.”
Roberts on the threat posed by China:
“I can’t believe I’m saying this being a son of the Cold War—and literally being worried when I was 10 years old that the Soviets were going to take over the United States—China is a much graver threat to the United States today than the Soviet Union was during my childhood in the 1970s and 1980s.
“Heritage has to say that over and over and over. That’s the first statement, and then of course we can backfill with all of the very correct nuance and policy prescriptions, but Americans need to hear Heritage proclaiming that from the rooftops.”
Roberts on suing the Biden administration over its COVID-19 vaccine mandate:
“If there isn’t legal action that stops it, I will be required as the president of The Heritage Foundation to ask employees about private health data that I believe as an employer, I do not have a right to. And I happen to believe that it is not only illegal, it’s also immoral for any employer to be asking that question. …
“Heritage has never filed a lawsuit like this. … In this case, Heritage decided, and I was encouraging our board to do this before my first day, to file this lawsuit because this is not something that I believe I could comply with as a leader.”