Dick Armey steps down as FreedomWorks tailors message to young voters

Dick Armey

After yesterday’s press conference with more than 100 activists who spoke with reporters about this year’s election and 2014, there has been more news coming from FreedomWorks. Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, who has served as chairman of the grassroots organization since 2003, has resigned his post due to issues over what direction FreedomWorks should take going forward:

In a move not publicly announced, former Rep. Dick Armey, the folksy conservative leader, has resigned as chairman of FreedomWorks, one of the main political outfits of the conservative movement and an instrumental force within the tea party.

Armey, the former House majority leader who helped develop and promote the GOP’s Contract with America in the 1990s, tendered his resignation in an memo sent to Matt Kibbe, president and CEO of FreedomWorks, on November 30. Mother Jones obtained the email on Monday, and Armey has confirmed he sent it. The tone of the memo suggests that this was not an amicable separation. (See Armey’s email below.) Armey demanded that he be paid until his contract ended on December 31; that FreedomWorks remove his name, image, or signature “from all its letters, print media, postings, web sites, videos, testimonials, endorsements, fund raising materials, and social media, including but not limited to Facebook and Twitter”; and that FreedomWorks deliver the copy of his official congressional portrait to his home in Texas.

“The top management team of FreedomWorks was taking a direction I thought was unproductive, and I thought it was time to move on with my life,” Armey tells Mother Jones. “At this point, I don’t want to get into the details. I just want to go on with my life.”

Since the election, FreedomWorks has been looking for ways to reach out to voting blocs that have been overlooked by establishment conservatives — and, to a larger degree, establishment Republicans. If this election taught us anything, it’s the importance of minority and young voters; both of which voted in droves against Mitt Romney.

Unlike the establishment, which plans to broaden its base by selling out on principles, FreedomWorks plans to make pitch to these voters based on economic freedom and limited government.

In 2008, Ron Paul was able to capture support of younger voters through his message of free markets and rational foreign policy. Young Americans for Liberty spawned from that campaign and was able to carry forward that message on college campuses. Through these efforts, Paul was able to build on his support in 2012. But the seed was planted and it needs a little water and sun to help it grow. The message is popular, and FreedomWorks sees the opportunity.

This is true forward-thinking that doesn’t sit well with many, and thus highlights the divide between the establisment, including Armey and many like him, and a budding youth liberty movement.

Ultimately, our movement comes out better and more able to fine tune the message to reach these new, important voters.

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