Troy thinks about think tanks

Tevi Troy examines for National Affairs the history and proliferation of public policy think tanks.

After Democrats lost the 2000 elections, for example, some liberal intellectuals and activists concluded that they were being outgunned in the arena of political communication, and created, among other institutions, the Center for American Progress — a think tank with a heavy emphasis on message development. And in 2008, after Republicans lost amid deep concern about the financial crisis and the ensuing economic downturn, some conservatives concluded that they needed more creative economic thinking, and this yielded, among other projects, e21 — a right-of-center economic-policy think tank based in Washington and New York. This trend — which might be summed up as “lose an election, gain a think tank” — has not only increased the proliferation of such institutions, but has also tended to make their work all the more responsive to political needs and developments, for better and for worse.

Today, think tanks are highly influential in our politics; their research and scholars are heavily consulted and relied on by our elected leaders. And in a time of both daunting policy challenges and highly polarized political debates, there is every reason to expect that think tanks will grow only more important in Washington.

If you’re wondering where the John Locke Foundation fits into this picture, perhaps the following information from JohnLocke.org will help.

JLF’s Vision

The John Locke Foundation envisions a North Carolina of responsible citizens, strong families, and successful communities committed to individual liberty and limited, constitutional government.

JLF’s Mission

The John Locke Foundation employs research, journalism, and outreach programs to transform government through competition, innovation, personal freedom, and personal responsibility. JLF seeks a better balance between the public sector and private institutions of family, faith, community, and enterprise.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...

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