Interview with Jim DeMint: Why Alabama?

DeMint_Jim - may 8 (457x640)Members of Congress are in the middle of their August recess, but they are not the only ones leaving Washington to spend time in the states.

On August 23rd, Jim DeMint, former Senator from South Carolina and President of the Heritage Foundation, will be speaking at a town hall event in Birmingham.

Alabama has a national reputation for being a deeply conservative state, but many national public policy organizations, both conservative and liberal, rarely spend any time or invest in the state. Liberals see the state as largely a lost cause, and many conservative organizations simply consider Alabama as a lock to support their national agendas.

In an interesting turn, Heritage Action for America, the Heritage Foundation’s advocacy arm, hired Elizabeth BeShears from the Alabama Policy Institute to serve asBirmingham regional coordinator and has shown a direct interest in connecting conservatives in the state with the issues being debated in Washington.

Recently, I had the opportunity to speak to Senator DeMint about the upcoming event and the national focus on Alabama conservatives.

“Sometimes Washington politicians forget that the founding principles of America were not handed down to the people from a powerful federal government,” said DeMint. “The idea of a limited government came from the states, and Alabama has an opportunity to be a showcase for conservative ideas.”

DeMint noted that many Alabamians are not only conservative, but they are willing to push back against liberal ideas that have proven destructive to families and created dependence on government. As an example, DeMint noted that the purest expressions of liberal policies can be found in states like California and Illinois, as well as cities like Detroit.

“I don’t have to argue that liberal ideas have failed because I can show you. Detroit has more than 400 liquor stores and not one chain supermarket,” DeMint noted. “Are those the kind of results that most Alabamians want for cities like Birmingham and Mobile?”


Conservatives in Alabama are willing to make real sacrifices so that their children and grandchildren will inherit an America filled with opportunity rather than dependency.

“Alabamians are increasingly recognizing that their values are threatened by the federal government,” he said. “Instead of simply wringing their hands and hoping things will improve in Washington, conservatives in Alabama are building an incubator for liberty at home.”

DeMint pointed out that Alabama’s elected leadership has taken note. From establishing a tax credit scholarship program to rescue children from failing schools to protecting the 2nd Amendment rights of gun owners and rejecting Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, DeMint noted that Alabama’s elected leaders are charting a different path.

“Alabama is primed to be a true test-case for democracy in America. Most Alabamians want a state and nation where government is less involved in their daily lives. More importantly, conservatives in Alabama are willing to make real sacrifices so that their children and grandchildren will inherit an America filled with opportunity rather than dependency.”

DeMint further noted that the Heritage Foundation hopes that focusing on the states and partnering with state-based organizations like the Alabama Policy Institute will mobilize conservatives and empower them to promote the principles of limited government, free markets and strong families.

“In Alabama, conservatives are not willing to settle for the inevitability of American decline and reliance on Washington’s elite,” said DeMint. “They are willing to fight for what they believe, and we hope to equip them to do that even more effectively.”


Cameron Smith is vice president and general counsel for the Alabama Policy Institute, an independent, non-profit research and education organization dedicated to the preservation of free markets, limited government and strong families. If you would like to speak with the author, he may be reached 205.870.9900, at camerons@alabamapolicy.org or on Twitter @DCameronSmith.

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