A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats: A Tribute to Jack Kemp

“A rising tide lifts all boats.”

So said Jack Kemp in his 1979 book, An American Renaissance. That short sentence encapsulates Jack Kemp’s beliefs throughout his career and ties together his ardent advocacy of tax cuts and supply side economics with his passionate interest in empowering America’s poor.

Kemp was instrumental in–and is perhaps best-known for–the inclusion of supply-side tax cuts in President Reagan’s economic plan in the early 1980s (which, if you recall, spurred one of the longest periods of economic growth in American history). However, his most lasting legacy, perhaps, is how he managed to showcase the preferred policies of fiscal conservatives (economic growth, free markets, tax simplification, tax cuts) and social conservatives (sanctity of life) in the same person. Indeed, Kemp was able to successfully articulate pro-market reforms to our social justice policies, including popularizing free enterprise zones and responsibly increasing home ownership rates, while maintaining a long record in support of civil rights. Critically, Kemp helped energize a generation of conservatives into a lasting political movement.

Tributes, however, are best written by those who knew the person to be honored. Here is an excellent one by Cesar Conda, who was affiliated with Kemp at Empower America (now FreedomWorks).

Says Conda,

Jack was best known for championing supply-side economics, which transformed the Republican Party from a minority party of austerity in the 1970s to the majority party of opportunity and growth it became under Ronald Reagan in the 1980s and beyond. But Jack was also an indefatigable champion for expanding freedom and democratic capitalism (with small “d” as he used to say) across the globe, for empowering the working poor in America’s distressed urban and rural communities, and for broadening the Republican Party’s appeal to African-Americans, Hispanics and other minorities by bringing it back to the Party of Abraham Lincoln.

Here’s to Jack Kemp, for a life well-lived.


Larry Kudlow on Kemp

NRO Editors on Kemp


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