Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio addressed a group of conservatives at the Leadership Institute this morning in Arlington, Virginia, for the organization’s Wednesdays Wake-Up Club breakfast series, where he advised those in attendance to avoid talking about socialism and instead frame conversations that would otherwise involve the topic around “the loss of freedom.”
Jordan is a member of the right-wing House Freedom Caucus, which was responsible for pushing former speaker John Boehner from power, and has evolved as a group that reliably attacks those who challenge President Donald Trump.
The Leadership Institute is a Washington, D.C., organization that trains right-wing activists, often college-aged or younger, on messaging and activism for conservative causes, and recruits future candidates for elected office with training on how to run a campaign. Scheduled workshops for the month of May include sessions on fundraising, grant writing, communications, debate, and media appearances. The group aims to train mainstream conservative groups, but occasionally far-right activists have enrolled in its training workshops and used those lessons for their own causes. Among those who have received training from LI are James O’Keefe of Project Veritas and Ralph Reed, the Republican political operative who leads the Faith and Freedom Coalition.
Leadership Institute president Morton C. Blackwell opened up the event by talking about ongoing conflicts in Venezuela, where the United States has voiced its support for forces in the country that oppose the embattled President Nicolas Maduro.
“I choose not to predict what is going to happen, but if I had to bet, I would put my money on Trump’s National Security Advisor John Bolton,” Blackwell said.
Bolton claims that “key figures” in the Maduro regime “committed to support ousting Maduro,” and has been calling on them to “fulfill their commitments.”
After reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and listening to remarks by an intern and a program director at the Leadership Institute, audience members heard from Jordan. The Ohio congressman began his remarks by praising the Leadership Institute, where he said he received media training there early in Congressional career. He went on to say that policies being pushed by prominent figures in the Democratic Party—measures on immigration and voting rights—were among “some of the most radical positions” he had ever seen.
“The reason I think the left is so crazy—they don’t start from the same premise we do. They really don’t, and I think this is important to understand. I think everyone in this room believes that we live in the greatest nation in history. The left doesn’t start there. They think America is just one of the 190-some countries on the planet,” Jordan said. “And when you start from the wrong premise, I think that leads to all kinds of problems.”
Then Jordan told Leadership Institute attendees that the message from the right, when you boil it all down, is: “Freedom is under attack right now in this country.” He cited the debunked notion that conservatives were being “shadow banned” by the social media platforms of technology companies, the rise of “politically correct” environments on college campuses, and Democrats advocating for “big government” and using that power to attack conservatives. Jordan went on advise that conservatives find ways to re-frame their critiques of socialism.
“Don’t talk about socialism. Talk about the loss of freedom,” Jordan told Leadership Institute.
He continued, “It’s about a system that takes away freedom. When you don’t have capitalism, free markets, free enterprise, liberty, freedom, fundamental rights protected, bad things happen, and we are seeing it play out on TV right now in Venezuela. So, our charge is talk what the loss of freedom looks like and how great we’ve had it in this country. If we do that, we’ll be just fine.”