Early Success

June 27, 2020

Using this as its starting point, APP launched itself into the rough-and-tumble political arena. Despite its small size and budget, the organization was able to have an immediate and outsized impact on the policy debate, especially in regards to presidential politics. In 2011, APP was the main sponsor of the Palmetto Freedom Forum, a Republican presidential primary debate televised nationally by CNN, helping put its ideas front and center during that year’s election. APP also broke new ground in the debate thanks to its insistence that it would choose the panelists (Sen. Jim DeMint, Rep. Steve King, and Prof. George), not the media, an effort spearheaded by APP program director Emmett McGroarty. Four years later, during the 2016 primary, APP was again able to influence the election through scorecards on a number of issues and via a pledge signed by the vast majority of Republican candidates (including Donald Trump) to sign the First Amendment Defense Act into law.

APP has also found success on individual issues, none more so than the Common Core education standards. Led by McGroarty, APP became one of the first major groups to oppose the Common Core, developing strong intellectual arguments against the standards and organizing the burgeoning grassroots opposition movement in the states. APP helped lead the charge in Indiana, the first of a number of states to legislatively repeal Common Core, and injected the issue into the 2016 GOP primary, where Trump used it as a key message of his winning campaign. This effort also led to a wider project which exposed how progressives have turned our nation’s constitutional structure upside down — putting the federal government in charge of state policy and reshaping the will of the citizen.

From left: APP senior fellow Emmett McGroarty with Indiana activist mom Heather Crossin, then Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, and activist mom Erin Tuttle

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