From Midland, Mr. Reed runs Mackinac (pronounced MAK-in-aw), the largest of the right's state-level policy institutes. The center started its training program eight years ago, and it has alumni in nearly every state and 37 countries, from Uruguay to Nepal. Among them was a Mongolian who went on to become prime minister, putting his free-market training to work by privatizing the national herd of yaks.He provides a timely reminder to conservatives in the wake of the election losses.
When the Mackinac Center was founded in 1987, there were just three other conservative state-level policy institutes. Now there are 48, in 42 states, joined in an association called the State Policy Network. At least three former Mackinac presidents are now in the House, Representatives Mike Pence of Indiana, Jeff Flake of Arizona, and Tom Tancredo of Colorado, all Republicans.
He attributes the Republican losses in last week's election to party's failure to cling to its small-government philosophy and argues the drift shows the need for groups like his. "This underscores the importance of investing in ideas first and foremost, because politicians will almost always disappoint," Mr. Reed said.While elections are important, the results will always fall within a range determined by the prevailing political culture. Turning conservative ideas into reality requires creating a conservative culture. That requires education, a task that must be pursued year round.