Every Winning Team Needs Good Players

Decades ago, the Heritage Foundation began publishing what it called a “Mandate for Leadership.”

The Mandate for Leadership series has evolved as a public-policy guide for the coming presidential term.

The Mandate for Leadership for 2025 is nothing if not serious about public policy.

The 2025 edition is no light bedtime reading. Its 887 pages are divided into five sections: (1) Taking the Reins of Government, (2) the Common Defense, (3) the General Welfare, (4) the Economy, and (5) Independent Regulatory Agencies. Together, the five sections have 30 chapters.

An electronic search of the document using “Supreme Court,” “high court,” and “nominat” reveals no discussion of U.S. Supreme Court nominations.

One needn’t be a faithful reader of this column to appreciate how important–or better yet, crucial–that task is.

By contrast, the word “border,” which is also crucial, justifiably comes up again and again and again.

Nevertheless, the 2025 edition is full of recommendations.

Not even you, faithful reader of this column, need to read the 2025 edition from cover to cover.

Yet you could open the full document on Heritage’s website and peruse whichever chapter strikes your fancy. If America’s role in the world is of particular interest, have a look, for example, at the chapter on the Department of State or the Department of Defense. If schools are of particular interest, have a look at the chapter on the Department of Education. Others may be interested in recommendations for the Departments of Agriculture, or Interior, or Justice, or Labor, or Transportation, or whatever else.

Please know, though, that some chapters, shall we say, get deep into the weeds. That’s not a criticism. They need to get deep into the weeds. Yet most lay readers won’t want to be in the weeds, much less deep in the weeds.

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Heritage President Kevin Roberts summarizes his perspective on the task at hand in the fourth paragraph of his foreword: “The long march of cultural Marxism through our institutions has come to pass. The federal government is a behemoth, weaponized against American citizens and conservative values, with freedom and liberty under siege as never before. The task at hand to reverse this tide and restore our Republic to its original moorings is too great for any one conservative policy shop to spearhead. It requires the collective action of our movement.”

Others may adopt this framing of the task at hand. Still others may frame it differently. Either way, personnel is key to implementing an administration’s goals.

Roberts understands this in the fifth paragraph of his foreword: “The axiom goes ‘personnel is policy,’ and we need a new generation of Americans to answer the call and come to serve.”

Yet not everyone fully grasps this. That includes some in the Trump administration from 2016 to 2020.

It’s no secret that the administration was slow in filling slots. One Reagan administration veteran told this columnist in 2017 that the administration was the slowest he’d ever seen.

Whatever the reason for that, the consequence was that the administration didn’t have in place–everywhere that it could have–people who supported its policy goals.

That, in effect, undermined the policy goals.

The administration of the next president to whom Heritage’s Mandate for Leadership series is directed needs to be more–or even more–attentive to bringing on the right people.

As Roberts puts it, “personnel is policy.”

Or to put it another way, no matter who a team’s head coach is, the head coach can’t win without good players who share the team’s goal of winning.

Every team needs such players, not just a good head coach.

Randy Elf joins those wanting good players, not just a good head coach.



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