I started Necessary & Proper Gov’t here on July 27th because I wanted to find out if I could persuasively connect with others outside my direct circle of family and friends about reasonable politics, government, and economics using calm and simple common sense. I have been an avid consumer of these topics via radio, the web, television, books and magazines for years.
But as soon as I “got out of the bleachers and onto the playing field” last month, I noticed that I now listen, watch, and read with a new alertness. HOW people are communicating is now as interesting to me as WHAT they’re communicating.
About 10 days later, I was listening to 850KOA radio and heard an interview of a Colorado woman named Krista Kafer. She has been active in conservative foundations and think tanks in Washington D.C. and Colorado since 1995. She had just launched Colorado’s Future Project on July 30th, and was busy with media appearances getting word out about her views and CFP’s goals:
“Politicians and special interest groups are spending millions to convince women that more government control is in their best interest. I am here to tell the other side of the story.”
What followed was an hour of calm and articulate common sense about politics and government policy. That’s kinda rare nowadays.
When the interview started wrapping up, as I’m normally reaching to turn the radio off, I instead listened intently as Ms. Kafer said “Contact me, get a hold of me, I’m anxious to hear your story.” So I did. I emailed a few questions to her and asked if she’d answer them for an article on my web page. Of course she’s a veteran big leaguer and I’m a rookie little leaguer, but I said I felt her approach is very similar to what I hope to achieve. She graciously accepted my request.
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N&P: What is your goal with Colorado’s Future Project? Will it retain a tie-in to your 4 years as the senior education policy expert at the Heritage Foundation, or are you striving to focus on a different aspect of our Colorado community?
Ms. Kafer: “CFP exists to provide information about public policy and provide a voice for independent women. There are a lot of women whose stories are not being heard. If it were up to the mainstream media and politicians, there would be but one narrative about women. We tell the other side of the story.”
N&P: What is your view on the necessity/benefit of the federal government’s Department of Education? Does it have a valid charter as a federal-level agency?
Ms. Kafer: “The argument that we need a federal role assumes that parents, teachers, principals, school boards, and even state education personnel can’t do the job themselves. You also have to wonder about the efficacy of sending money to Washington only to have a portion return to the state’s schools. Why not keep that money in state?”
N&P: The whole saga of the Washington D.C. school voucher program has many insights and lessons, no doubt. From your perspective, what were the most significant takeaways?
Ms. Kafer: “The DC Voucher Program was created by the tireless activism of African American moms whose kids suffered in the nation’s worst schools and a few sympathetic Members of Congress and outside groups like the Heritage Foundation. I remember working with that coalition while I worked at the Heritage Foundation. The moms were amazing.”
N&P: With your expertise in education policy analysis, I’m sure you are paying close attention to Douglas County’s groundbreaking efforts at education reform by its conservative school board. What is your view of this effort, and your assessment of the potential national impact? If DougCo’s struggles are elevated to the Colorado Supreme Court, will they have a chance at a fair judicial deliberation? What about if DougCo’s issues ever reach the U.S. Supreme Court?
Ms. Kafer: “The Douglas County School Board is one of the most forward thinking, innovative and courageous boards in the country. Superintendent Celania-Fagen is a great proponent of reform. I worry about the CO Supreme Court. Despite the fact that the Board crafted the initiative to be compatible with the CO Constitution, I’m guessing the Court will strike it down for ideological reasons. I’m not worried about the US Supreme Court. The Zelman precedent clearly finds such programs compatible with the US Constitution.”
N&P: What is your college degree, and from where? From your Mike Rosen interview on 850KOA, I recall hearing you had an ideological epiphany, and transitioned from liberalism to conservatism. Was it tough to change ideology and still be able to apply your degree towards a money-earning career? Did your epiphany adversely affect your pocketbook for awhile?
Ms Kafer: “I have a history BA from our very own University of Colorado. I attended the Boulder and Denver campuses. I just started a grad program at my alma mater. I got the BA in history because I love history. I still read it all the time. After my epiphany my junior year, I started to become interested in politics. I headed to DC about a year after graduation. Turns out a history degree is a good liberal arts degree for working on Capitol Hill. The epiphany hasn’t hurt my pocketbook. When you get into the habit of giving a percentage of your income to charity, you don’t miss it.”
N&P: What unique insights can you share about your metamorphosis from liberal to conservative beliefs? Having gone through it, do you find it helps you communicate better and be more persuasive?
Ms. Kafer: “I meet folks all of the time who were liberal and became conservative or libertarian. It takes an open mind and, in my case at least, a bit of cognitive dissonance, to produce a change. Asking questions that cause people to question their world view is very effective. If you come into a discussion guns blazing with facts and arguments, people get defensive. Instead ask questions and offer real life examples and analogies. It works better.”
N&P: I believe it is fair to say you are a self-selected member of the “I want to make a difference in the world” variety of people. But you’re also a conservative. From your perspective, do you think there is an intellectual dilemma between the natural inclination of politicians and their staffers (Dem & Repub alike) to want to positively help society and its citizens vs. the conservative philosophy of limited government? Did you have trouble resisting the urge to become a career activist?
Ms. Kafer: “Honestly, I wish everything was fine so I could become a travel writer. I’d rather be traveling, playing with my dog, taking my niece to the zoo, and gardening than doing anything political. Although I enjoy public speaking and writing, I’m more of a policy nerd than a politician. I am compelled to be involved in politics because I feel a great sense of urgency about the state of my nation. Big government is the enemy of freedom. My principles restrain any activist impulse I might have. My love of life, however, is the greatest restraint by far. Like George Washington, I just want to get it done and go back to my farm. In my case it’s more of a farmlette – four hives, four chickens, and a whole lot of fruit and vegetables.”
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Please visit Ms. Kafer’s web site at http://coloradofutureproject.com/
View these other recent media appearances by Ms. Kafer: