joseph-bastDear Friends:

The Heartland Institute celebrated 30 years of defending free enterprise, individual liberty, and limited government with a gala event on Friday, September 12. Nearly 500 people attended to hear opening keynote presentations by Michelle Malkin and former congressman Joe Walsh, as well as a salute to M. Stanton Evans, winner of the 2014 Heartland Liberty Prize.  Video of all the presentations is here.

If you were there, you must have noticed the special energy and enthusiasm that spread across the room. Many people remarked on the decidedly upbeat mood of the audience and the number of new people in the room. The audience seemed to understand that freedom and free enterprise are under attack, perhaps more than at any previous time since Heartland’s founding in 1984, but that the public was waking up to the threat and the coming elections would mark a decisive turning point. They were right.

This year’s benefit was our first to be held in the suburbs since the 1990s, when four consecutive events took place outside downtown, including three of them in The Cotillion, the banquet hall in suburban Palatine, Illinois, where this year’s event took place. The room was full of first-time guests, men and women who have been active with Tea Party groups in the past and often on political campaigns at the time. They made it clear that “heartland values” are still alive and well in Illinois, even if not often on display in its largest city.

The event’s logistics were flawless, from registration to audio-video to the fine food. Parking was free and plentiful, affordable hotels were nearby, and we arranged for a free shuttle between The Cotillion and the nearby Metra train station.

Joe Walsh’s talk got the audience to its feet as he admonished Congress for failing to do its constitutionally defined duties and called on a populist uprising against crony capitalism and the left’s nanny state agenda. Easily one of the most entertaining and high-energy speakers in the conservative and libertarian movement today, Walsh reminded the audience of his more modest roots, too, starting with some years working to promote school choice for The Heartland Institute back in the early 1990s.

Michelle Malkin demonstrated why she has become one of the most popular and admired figures in the freedom movement. She discussed her humble background as well, and then made her views  about the Obama-Gates Common Core State Standards personal by describing how they affect her own young family. You could have heard a pin drop at various moments during her speech as the audience hung on her every word… and she got a rousing standing ovation when she ended.

This year’s Heartland Liberty Prize winner, M. Stanton Evans, was unable to attend due to poor health, but Jameson Campaigne and Joseph M. Morris delivered a salute to their friend Stan that had the audience almost constantly laughing and clapping. The  presentation included a video slide show featuring pictures of Stan over the course of his long career. After the event, Stan was sent his award along with a DVD with the entire presentation recorded. He called us to express his delight with the show and gratitude for the recognition.

Plans are already underway for our 31st anniversary benefit dinner in 2015. Please call Gwen Carver at 312/377-4000, or send her an email at, to suggest speakers or to reserve a table.






Joseph Bast
The Heartland Institute

[Photo of Malkin: Jonah Koch]



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