Home » News » Liberty + Leadership Podcast – Randal Teague on the History of TFAS

Liberty + Leadership Podcast – Randal Teague on the History of TFAS


Join Roger Ream ’76 in this week’s Liberty + Leadership Podcast as he speaks with Randal Teague, chairman of The Fund for American Studies. Roger and Randy talk about his career journey in law and politics, while covering history, economics, international trade, and civil society.

They discuss the need for a fresh approach to journalism and how America’s polarization can be countered with courageous student leaders – both issues that TFAS strives to address. Randy and Roger also talk about the significance of teaching American history in high schools, his work with the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation & Museum and his pride in his four children.

Randy Teague has been a member of TFAS’s Board of Trustees since 1979 and was elected as chairman in 1998. Randy worked closely with one of TFAS’s five founders, David R. Jones, at the time of the organization’s incorporation. He served as editor of TFAS’s publications in the 1970s; was a co-founder of TFAS Prague in 1993 and the founder of TFAS Greece in 1996. He also helped conceptualize the Capital Semester program in 2003.

Early in his career, Randy worked for former Rep. William C. Cramer of Florida, volunteered for the Goldwater presidential campaign, worked alongside Congressman Jack Kemp during the transformative tax reduction of the 1970s and practiced law in both Boston and Washington, D.C. Randy holds a bachelor’s degree from American University, and J.D. and LL.M. with honors law degrees from George Washington University. He has also been conferred two honorary doctorates in law and humanities.

Episode Transcript

The transcript below is lightly edited for clarity.

Roger Ream [00:00:00] Hello and welcome. I’m Roger Ream and this is the Liberty and Leadership Podcast, a conversation with TFAS alumni, supporters, faculty and friends who are making a real impact in public policy, business, philanthropy, law and journalism. Today, I’m excited to be joined by Randy Teague, chairman of the Board of Trustees of The Fund for American Studies. Randy has a deep history with TFAS and has been involved in the organization almost since its start in 1967. Throughout the decades, Randy has had an illustrious law career while also serving on the Board of TFAS and a variety of other organizations and in other capacities. While playing a major role in TFAS’s success, Randy also has managed to find time to write a book, pursue his interests in history, economics, international trade and development and civil society generally. Randy, thanks so much for joining me today.

Randal Teague [00:01:05] Well, Roger, thank you very much for this opportunity to talk about TFAS.

Roger Ream [00:01:09] Well, I am looking forward to the discussion here on our Liberty and Leadership podcast. You were one of those, really the main person encouraging me for a number of years to start a podcast, and we’ve been doing it now for just over a year. We’ve had more than 50 episodes, most featuring TFAS alumni who are doing marvelous things around the world and bringing on some professors in our program. So, it’s going to be great to interview you as chairman and a key member of our Board of Trustees for many years. I remember resisting doing a podcast saying: “I don’t know if the world needs another podcast,” but since it started, I realize the many benefits of it, the chance to talk to our alumni, faculty and other friends, hear what they’re doing, and to reconnect them to our organization. Well, I’d like to talk with you today about your involvement in TFAS over the years, as well as some of the many things you’ve done in your career. But let’s start with the man I guess, most responsible for the fact that we’ve worked together these number of years, and that’s David Jones, a key founder of The Fund for American Studies. Now, you met him as a high school student at St. Petersburg, Florida, I think?

Randal Teague [00:02:27] St. Petersburg, Florida.

Roger Ream [00:02:29] How did that come about?

Randal Teague [00:02:30] Well, it came about by the right coincidences to phrase it that way. David had been teaching at Clearwater High School, and I had been elected at St. Petersburg, one of their high schools as president. And the faculty advisor was a fellow in the history department that David was joining in after about four or five weeks of the fall semester, the teacher said: “I’ve got a guy I think you should meet because this guy shares our view of the world,” and our view of the world was a deep attachment to American history, American values, etc. So, I met David first as a person, teaching a history course that I was not in for that semester. I did that course the second semester, and it was remarkable to me because without a syllabus misguide again, he taught American history the right way, including what was in people’s minds in supporting a democracy. And David became involved in an organization called Young Americans for Freedom and eventually became Florida chairman, Southern Regional Chairman, National Board, National Executive Director, and we felt that we had a common bond at that point in working in all kinds of efforts to bring about a better understanding. And the 1960s were at the very beginning of the student leftward movement in this country, so the timing of this turned out to be perfect for the both of us, really.

Roger Ream [00:04:01] So, you mentioned the Young Americans for Freedom, an organization I also got involved in when in college that led me to meet David Jones about a decade later, I guess. Tell me, was your involvement in YAF something that started in high school, or was that some of that waited till college because they’re mostly active on college level?

Randal Teague [00:04:23] Right. It did start in high school and would not have started in high school had it not been for David. David went to New York City for a YAF national rally, came back really energized, and eventually moved to Washington to become the national executive director. I had been studying marine botany, marine biology in high school, felt that my career was headed in that direction. I’d done a lot of good work in good oceans, as you say, and I had a not a scholarship, but a loan from the University of Miami. My mother and I couldn’t quite figure out how we were going to pay this loan, and David said: “Rather than spending six months a year at sea and six months in a formaldehyde laboratory, you need to go into politics and law and things of that nature.” So, David came to Washington and a year later I came behind him.

Roger Ream [00:05:16] I guess marine biology or marine botany is something that occurs to a student growing up in Florida more so than someone like me in Wisconsin. I don’t think that ever entered my mind as a profession.

Randal Teague [00:05:29] I’m sure that would be true.

Roger Ream [00:05:32] You came to Florida from the Carolinas, right?

Randal Teague [00:05:38] Well, my family lived in Durham, so I was born in the city of Duke University. My dad took a position in Chapel Hill, and so we went to Chapel Hill for three years, which was a fascinating experience for me in many, many ways, because the cities were remarkably different culturally, attitudinally and everything else. It flows from that. And then Dad took a position in Florida, and so at the age of 30, went to Florida and went to St. Petersburg, which is amazing. t’s a peninsula surrounded on three sides by salt water. And so, it was swimming, beaching, sailing, scuba diving, surfing, whatever. It was a paradise for a teenager. That’s how I got involved in the marine biology through an organization called The Science Center in St. Petersburg, which I became the student president of. I stayed all these years, all of these decades, still interested in oceanography and marine sciences. So, that’s frequently on the front page of the newspapers these days. So, I’ve maintained that interest.

Roger Ream [00:06:43] Yeah, I know you’ve done some things with William and Mary in that regard, right?

Randal Teague [00:06:46] Right. I served on William and Mary’s Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences Board, which really brought it all together for me in a great way, but not sacrificing anything else I was doing for the Fund.

Roger Ream [00:06:56] Yeah. Well, we can’t dwell too much on those early years, as much as there are interesting things there and you’ve written about them. But David eventually left St. Petersburg too. You mentioned you became executive director of YAF. You went off to college and stayed involved with YAF. I take it with David. When did you first kind of connect with The Fund for American Studies, which I should remind our listeners, was founded in 1967.

Randal Teague [00:07:24] Right. When David was the executive director of YAF, he saw a great disparity in our country in terms of youth political activity, public affairs, and it was at the left organizations all had tax exemptions and the right organizations and conservatives and libertarians and so forth at that time, did not have tax exemptions. So, he talked to Bill Buckley, Governor Charles Edison of New Jersey, Thomas Edison’s son and several other people. And out of that grew the idea that became the Charles Edison Youth Fund is a viable one, see through organization, and that carried that name forward is the Charles Edison Memorial Fund. And then in the mid 1980s became The Fund for American Studies. So, that happened to Ronald Reagan’s birthday, February the sixth, 1967. I was working for a Florida congressman, but I was on the YAF board, and therefore, David said: “All right, now that we have reached this point, why don’t you come down and be my state and local directors?” So, I joined David’s staff at that point.

Roger Ream [00:08:25] Well, one thing I recall from your time at I guess it was when you were working with YAF, you shared with me a few years ago a photo of you with Milton Friedman and I think Senator Barry Goldwater. You were testifying on the Hill with them, right?

Randal Teague [00:08:43] There was a fourth person, General Thomas Lane, and he was more or less the military community’s support spokesman the face of support for a voluntary military. And Senator Goldwater, that was a conservative, but he was primarily a libertarian. Milton Friedman From that standpoint, General Lane from the military standpoint and me from youth standpoint, were testifying before the Senate in the House committees. Before the Senate committee, I think the chair of the committee was Walter Mondale, who became vice president later. But there was broad support at that point, as it remains today, I think, for a voluntary military. It was good to have an ability to bring this forward with the support of senior retired military executives. So, it was not seen as anything coming from the left. It was seen as something that was very broadly supported. Including the military, they felt that one way or the other, it would help them in what they were doing in their mission.

Roger Ream [00:09:45] Well, if I leave something out here, you can fill in a gap. I’m really intrigued in talking to you about a position you held in the early seventies, beginning in the early seventies as chief of staff to Congressman Jack Kemp. Jack Kemp should be familiar to everyone listening to this. Maybe some of the young people don’t remember as well. But after a career in the American Football League, a little bit in the NFL, I guess he ran for Congress from Buffalo, New York, got elected. You became his chief of staff. He gathered some great minds around him. Maybe some are on the staff, some from the outside that led to a very important event in our country’s history. Can you talk some about working for Jack Kemp and the tax reduction?

Randal Teague [00:10:30] Well, working for Jack Kemp was really a remarkable experience. Jack was elected to Congress with the very same night that Jim Buckley was elected to the Senate in New York in 1970, and the Youth for Kemp organizations in western New York and the youth for Buckley organizations throughout the state interacted a lot with each other. The consequence of that was that we knew each other, and David Jones was in fact, the number two person in the campaign for Senator Buckley. So, the way this came about was Jack was looking for somebody that had a tax background and at that point I had a graduate degree in taxation and somebody that also understood public works because Lake Erie was overtaking his congressional district. He said it would be impossible to find this and since I had been the Republican clerk for the House Committee on Public Works that dealt with those water issues and the tax experience, I came to work for him. It was remarkable because Jack was every answer to every question was, we can do it. That symbolized his life. He had been an executive assistant for a short period of time during the off seasons for Governor Ronald Reagan. So, he was totally tied to the Reagan agenda, and he had an idea that we needed to reduce tax rates on the American people. But he didn’t quite know how to go about that, it was different from what others had proposed. So, he came forward with an idea supported by the Wall Street Journal editorial pages, primarily, that we needed to reduce individual income tax rates. So, the Kemp legislation moved forward in the House. Senator Roth from Delaware voted for it in the Senate. The initial Republican support was not there. Republicans were nervous that it might mean reduced income and therefore balanced budget issues.

Roger Ream [00:12:31] Higher deficits.

Randal Teague [00:12:32] Higher deficits. It was shown by Laffer Judd, Bob Bartley and others that that was exactly the opposite, that reducing it would produce more economic activity and in fact generate more income to the Treasury. So, we slowly won over Jerry Ford and Millard and other Republican leadership to this idea. In the early Reagan administration, it was in fact, enacted several years later. There was a slide back off, but the lower income rates we have in this country today in 2023 are all the progeny of that initial enactment.

Roger Ream [00:13:10] It led to what I remember The Wall Street Journal editor Bob Bartley titled his book “The Seven Fat Years: And How to Do It Again.” The Reagan Revolution led to this tremendous economic growth. A very important point was proven because I know the left used to talk about free market economics being trickle-down economics, and this showed that cutting taxes on wealthier people and everyone across the board would lead to prosperity for all.

Randal Teague [00:13:40] Right. And every time they would accuse us of trickle-down economics, we would remind them that it was flow down in economics, not trickle down.

Roger Ream [00:13:47] Exactly.

Randal Teague [00:13:49] The middle class really did significantly move forward, as did the lower tax bracket classes as well. It really did revitalize the country for essentially 40 years. Great achievement on Jack Kemp.

Roger Ream [00:14:03] Well, I want to make sure we have adequate time to talk about all you’ve accomplished as a member of the board, as well as chairman of The Fund for American Studies. So, let’s shift over that for a bit. The organization’s grown considerably in the past 30 years. Much of it while you were chairman, became chairman in 1998. It’s become international focus. It’s picked up high school programing. It’s doing a lot more in journalism. Talk about kind of how you see the organization has evolved since the early years. You were involved not as a board member really, but as an involved in the program still and with David and to where we are today.

Randal Teague [00:14:46] Roger, I really appreciate the opportunity to do that because I think persons that even know the organization quite well don’t understand exactly what happened in the wake of David’s death. David died very surprisingly for you, me and others, in April of 1998. David had been chairman; he had been CEO and he had been president. He carried all three titles. What really started this growth in the organization was that we split those responsibilities because you became president, I became chairman, we sort of split the CEO duties. But it meant that instead of one person thinking through where we are and where we’re going, we had a very positive, cathartic effect between the two of us as to: what if this, what if that, should we consider this, consider that? That was relevant to program. Roughly almost a decade ago, we did bring in a sophisticated high school program in the economics area. You did not just mention it, but we’re also doing graduate programs now, especially in law, in economics. That came about because we had more persons, you, me and others working on it, where we were, where we ought to be going then. David. I think that the success of the organization today, with tens of thousands of alumni spread out all over the world, not just here, so that they understand the economic way of thinking, and that means you don’t come up with a political idea and force it through Congress or anyplace else. You weigh whether economically it will work financially, will it work, will it not work? And then you develop policies on that. It’s too bad that the White House or White Houses, because it’s been certainly more than one president and the Federal Reserve, the Council of Economic Advisors don’t understand the importance of letting the economy and the economic issues drive political decisions which are for the benefit of the people. If you don’t do that, you’re spending money that they give you through taxes, you confiscate it through your taxes, and if you don’t confiscate enough of it through taxes, you bring it in nonetheless, through borrowing, which its debts future generations. So, this idea, that it was brought forward through the program platforms for The Fund enabled us to reach now several generations. David would be so proud of the work that you have done in this respect that we were going year to year to year and now we’re going decade, decade, decade, program, program, program. I think the consequence of that is going to be felt. If you look at the outstanding alumni of this organization, they came through the initial six week, then seven weeks, then eight-week program. Some of them had done more than one. You see where they are in major sectors of the American economy and public life. You really do. It’s quite a success.

Roger Ream [00:17:38] Well, I think one thing that was a change when we shifted from David Jones in all those roles, and he died, sadly, at the age of 60. You and I then took on primary responsibility for this organization was you always were pushing for, and I won’t say growth in numbers because we want to reach more students, of course, but for growth and impact and to do more. It led to a starting more institutes that we called them at the time in the summer. It led to year-round programs and then eventually led to us taking on the Robert Novak Journalism Program and the Foundation for Teaching Economics and all the high school programs for students and teachers. We continue to grow with the Joseph Rago Fellowship and more programs for alumni. But first, let me ask you about the international area, which is one area where we did grow. And, David, of course, I always had a keen interest in international, was involved in programs that went internationally, as were you. But that’s when I first was getting connected with the organization in terms of coming on the staff. I remember attending the first board meeting before joining, and you were chairing a committee of Internet on international programs, and it was unclear then exactly what direction that would go. David gave you the mandate to figure that out, and you did. So, talk about how it evolved into the international programs we do today.

Randal Teague [00:19:07] Well, America, during part of his history was secure for reasons that were fading. In a world of instant technology, communications, military systems, etc. America could be more secure in the world, Americans themselves could be more secure in the world, if more areas of the world, more countries, more regions were committed to political and economic freedom. And this was not true in many areas. It was halfway true in other areas. So, we looked at Central and Eastern Europe, particularly, because the overwhelming majority of Americans are derived from a European heritage. We knew that Western Europe was committed in some ways, but not always, and we knew that Eastern Europe had been under the Kremlin heel for four decades at that point in time. We knew Dean College, Michael Collins from Georgetown, Bill Tucker, a member of the board originally from Oklahoma. The four of us visited different cities, different universities, trying to find a match. And the thing that was terrifying, I use that word to me was that these universities, not one single person to economics department or professor of learning person, knew how to teach free economics, free enterprise, economic freedom because they had been forced to teach Marxism their entire lives. So, we knew at that point we had to bring people from the United States in. So, we chose Charles University, founded many centuries ago in the heart of Prague, and bringing students from throughout Central and Eastern Europe, including Western Europe and including the United States, because at the student level, you wanted people that had experienced American freedoms. So, that program was launched. Several years after that we decided to take that concept with modifications, some serious modifications into the Middle East, Eastern Mediterranean. And that eventually resulted in a program in Hong Kong when Hong Kong was free, as is not now, so that we could teach why freedom, free economics, political systems, individual liberty, etc. should follow the American or the European model rather than the Chinese model. And then lastly, we brought that program to Latin America. We no longer in Hong Kong. We’re working even now as to whether Singapore or Australia or someplace else might be the most appropriate place for it. But the importance of that is that we sometime will take well, we always take what we believe to them. But sometimes if the money or available from our donors will bring the top students from those programs to America, first time they’ve ever been here, and they’ll see what political and economic freedom all is about. So, it works in both directions, but it makes America more secure than just having armaments, weapons and navies and so forth, because we have a common bond to individual liberty rather than state control of people’s lives.

Roger Ream [00:22:08] And the start of those international programs in the early 1990s were the fulfillment of one of the six objectives listed in the organization’s founding documents. It was to provide opportunities for international enrichment for young people. And you’re right, those Americans who participate in that program are is profoundly impacted by these programs as the students from those regions that attend. To look at many of those graduates we keep in touch with, we have two graduates of the Prague program who serve as ambassadors to the United Nations for their countries, Poland and the Czech Republic, the deputy to the Polish ambassadors, and along with our program, we’ve had them in parliaments and ministries as ministers and deputy foreign ministers and other capacity. So, it is remarkable.

Randal Teague [00:22:57] Czech ambassador to the U.N. that you are working with now was the minister of foreign affairs for the entire Czech government.

Roger Ream [00:23:04] That’s right. So, it’s amazing the impact that’s had and the opportunity which you grabbed at that time was that the changes were so profound that a whole new generation of leadership was going to be coming into power in these countries. And they needed to be trained. They needed to be educated about our country, about the free market. I remember that first trip we took over there with Dean Collins and Bill Tucker, and the first dean we met with in Prague at the Faculty of Social Sciences, on his business card, it said Vladimir, window washer cleaner because that’s what he had to do because he was kicked out of the university. So, those who were teaching economics, teaching Marxian economics, because the good guys had been kicked out of the university. You’ve always been involved in that part of the world during the Cold War. You, I know, did legal work as well as volunteer and civil society work in the former Soviet Union and elsewhere. Any experiences to share about that? I know you made multiple trips.

Randal Teague [00:24:11] David Jones was involved in that as well. David was president of the American Council of Young Political Leaders, which was a strictly bipartisan, so strictly that it was painful, bipartisan organization that had been created for American young political leaders to interact with young political leaders in countries all over the world. And David was asked by President Reagan to take an assignment at higher education. So, he had to leave that presidency and so I became president and stayed in that position for some period. And we had an extensive program with the Soviet Union and with other countries as well. We worked hard at this. The young political leaders in Moscow had been told that capitalism was going to collapse next week, that America was completely falling apart. So, when they came to the United States, we would fly them to L.A., because if the only way to land at LAX is to fly for miles and miles and miles and behind every single home is a swimming pool, and you can have more impact on, you know, where we are, where they are. But I must tell you, one of the most amazing experiences, I’m a Protestant, but I did a lot of work for the Catholic Church in the Czech Republic, even before it became to Czech Republic was Czechoslovakia. And everybody had a real life that was invisible if the state police had not figured that out. So, there was a particular order of the church. The head of that order was a janitor in the Communist Party headquarters, because they didn’t know what he really was in the church. What was his job? Every night he and his crowd emptied the wastepaper basket to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Czech Republic, which obviously meant all the paperwork going on in the Communist government for control of the people was going to the church for its uses, discriminations in survival. So, those kind of just heartwarming experiences of how strongly people are committed to freedom because they were risking their lives. They literally were risking their lives.

Roger Ream [00:26:14] You know, David Jones was a mentor to the two of us, and he had this uncanny ability that is rare in many people. When you talk to him, you thought you were the most important person in his life or in the room. He would focus on you; he’d inspire you to try to achieve things in your career. I think that’s a characteristic you have as well. Students love to talk to you, and you inspire them as well, and you’ve been a mentor to many of them. But since this is liberty and leadership and I’m just kind of thinking about this here on the spot. What is it about leadership that creates that kind of personality, that inspires others? Do you have any thoughts about leadership you can share?

Randal Teague [00:26:58] I’m not sure my thoughts are coherent.

Roger Ream [00:27:02] My question wasn’t. So, that’s fine.

Randal Teague [00:27:04] No, no, no. But I think there are different reasons. We stress at The Fund is part of our five-year strategic plan underway right now, the importance of personal courage. But you never know whether you’re going to have personal courage or not, because it’s easy to hide in the back of a room where a great debate going on and just not participate. So, there are lots and lots and lots of examples. But what we do, I think, in our work with the students is to prepare them to understand the role of personal courage and the changing of history. It’s amazing to me that at the Department of Justice, for example, in this town, the only statue outside of it is of Nathan Hale, a teenager, Yale student. Would he have ever known that morning that he was going to become a fixture in the American Republic? And the answer is no. He would not have known. He would have suspected, he would have been cautious, but he would not have known what was going to unfold. And there are others in the American Revolution as well. Then you have that throughout American history, and you also certainly do not understand how somebody that learned to read by firelight candlelight could become a person who would free people throughout this entire nation. And so, you don’t know. But I think it’s a combination of values. And they have to learn the values. If they’ve gone through education and not learned those values, have not learned them at home or wherever it might be, they’re not going to have them because you have to understand values to want to defend values. Right? So, if we do that and we also have them understand the role of organizations and networks and things of that nature so that you don’t feel alone. And to go back to Nathan Hale, for an example, Nathan Hale was hung for being a spy for George Washington, but he knew the other spies for George Washington were in fact, going to continue. It gave him confidence that he was part of something larger than he was.

Roger Ream [00:29:07] Yeah, well, those are excellent insight. So, I appreciate that. Well, let me move forward to the past decade at TFAS. Virtually it was the same time, I think was the same month we took over the Robert Novak Journalism Program that our friend and former board member Tom Phillips had started with the great journalist Bob Novak. And we took on through a friendly acquisition, the Foundation for Teaching Economics from Jerry Hume, an organization based in California, working, doing great things at the high school level to teach economics. Let’s talk first about journalism. You know, the state of journalism is still not good. There are lots of problems. Kind of our country has become divided, and if you’re on one side of the spectrum, you watch one side of media and the other watch another, you don’t that is not difficult. You read everything and you’re a great source of information to me by clipping articles and sending them to me that I might have otherwise missed. But, you know, where do you think we stand on journalism and any thoughts about our Novak and Rago programs you want to offer?

Randal Teague [00:30:20] Well, as I think both of us know, and certainly our viewers know, journalism is a profession under attack. There’s no question about that right now. The inherent rights in journalism arise from protection of their sources and things of that nature that’s under constant attack by agencies of the U.S. government that get warrants when they’re unwarranted, etc. But not all journalists, not all great journalists went to journalism school. And I think Fred Barnes, who’s known to everybody, I’m sure, brought that to our attention at a very perfect time that you need to bring the opportunities for journalism beyond journalism schools, because a lot of those schools are closing around the country anyway. And so, what you have been able and this you Rodger’s not the organization, but you have been able to bring forward in journalism is that there the relationships with journalism entities that are out there each day printing putting on the air, whatever they might be. When you said at the beginning: “My observation was we don’t need another podcast in America.” You know, we may not, but we need another podcast that conveys what it is you are doing at The Fund as to what you’re doing and what the fund is doing. So, the importance of that is journalism, is one of our sweet spots. The other sweet spot that really dominates us right now is economics, and it’s dominated us for some period because economics and politics are tied together. That’s why we know as a discipline is political economy. And if we can concentrate at the high school level, the college level on the post college level, postgraduate level, on those, I think we can accomplish what it is that we can accomplish. I really do.

Roger Ream [00:32:05] Yes. Well, we have a lot to show for our journalism programs in terms of the young people we’ve prepared for careers. Hardly a day goes by where I don’t come across an article by one of our graduates is covering uncovering something or writing about the latest hot events in the world. The FTE merger or acquisition really took us into that high school level. We were so focused on college and above, and now suddenly we’ve got this large program. We hit a record number of students in our high school programs this summer, lots of programs for teachers. We’re keeping the offices open in Davis, California. What are your thoughts about having taken our work down to a level below college?

Randal Teague [00:32:56] Well, I think it’s essential. If you think in terms of the polarization of American opinion right now, you have to work with students before they get to college. Working with them at the high school level is essential. We had a significant increase in the number, this year. I think your high school experience, my high school experience, we saw people around us then in ways that are different today because there’s so many diversions. We had sports, we had our academic programs and so forth, but now there’s so many other attractions and getting them refocused so that they understand how it will reinforce their college participation, that reinforce graduate school applications and that reinforce their job opportunities. It is Absolutely essential. There are some organizations now that are already experimenting. They haven’t run out there yet, full blown, but they are experimenting with whether you can move even further down that high school, and there are legal issues there in loco parentis issues, things of that nature that lawyers would worry about. But you can never get somebody too young in terms of their ideas. I think when I look at the authors that have come through your program, many of them up here in the academic area, etc., but some of these authors are in fact doing children’s books. At that level, trying to take good ideas of grandparents, parents and students, young students can understand and agree on to reinforce their views about America, because the views about America are essential that it was truly a city on a hill, and it had values that helped define the world community. Think what the world community would be today, Roger, if we had not intervened in World War I and the imperial powers had conquered all of Europe, or if Hitler had in fact conquered Europe in World War II and shared it with Stalin. American values are essential in the entire world community. And that’s what I think our students are doing now. Each one of these is it has to be said, it’s a good graphic. It’s a good image. Like when our journalists go out. You know, it isn’t that our program alone is the center of a network, but each one of them, when they go out there, becomes the center of a network. So, you’re constantly spreading these ideas of freedom as far as you can.

Roger Ream [00:35:25] You mentioned the idea of America as a shining city on a hill, and that’s certainly, sadly not something taught in a lot of high schools around the country anymore. We’re taught as having a background history that we should apologize for. That’s why I think, we’ve been exploring, as you know, is there a way we can get more of that kind of civic understanding that history into our programs? We are doing economic forces in American history, but it is vital that we reach into the high school level and be out below with the idea of America as a shining city on a hill. But that brings me also to an aspect of what you do in life related to history and your passion for American history and other history. I know you went to England when the Magna Carta anniversary. Well, that would have been about 8 years ago. You’re a member of the Sons of the American Revolution. Some other organizations like that. Where did you get this passion for American history? Talk a little bit about how it’s manifesting itself.

Randal Teague [00:36:36] To me, it operates at two levels. It operates at that level of a shining city on a hill, because that early period when they came to America were from England. And of course, that later changed. I mean, you added the Netherlands, and you added Germany and so forth. But these were people coming here to get away from big government. That’s why they came here, was to get away from big government. So, it operates at that level, but it operates also it. Where does my family fit in this? Where do I fit in this? And when I tell people, you know, hey, X, Y, or Z, I made sure to point out that what pride I might have, that I’m descended from whomever it might be, they might be descended from that person as well. When we went to England, there was supposed to be hundreds of us that were descended from the Barons at Runnymede. And we ended up in the night before the meeting with the Queen and so forth that we were 106 and somebody at my table said: “Why didn’t we end up in 106? It was supposed to be 100.” And I said: “It’s easy. Politics, transatlantic politics, right?” But the next day it was remarkable to see what it meant to America to have this dramatic event where the king accepted the demands of the barons, which are right to jewelry and things of this nature that flowed down to us in 2023. And I would tell you, the bad King John tried to change his mind that very afternoon. And then Magna Carta went through several revisions. I regret, it was originally known in history by its real name, the Great Charter of Liberties. And somehow in the 19th century, even in America, the liberties part got dropped out of the appellation. So, we call it the Magna Carta now rather than the Magna Carta of Liberties. When I talk to people, I get the liberties back end because that’s very wise. I think it’s neat to understand history by seeing, gee, my ancestor was a farmer in Maryland or another one was this in France or whatever?

Roger Ream [00:38:35] Well, speaking of families, you wrote a book called “Families” a few years ago, and I even brought my copy of it here subtitled “Where we each Begin.”

Randal Teague [00:38:50] This is not a promotion.

Roger Ream [00:38:51] No, no. But it’s large part biographical. But it’s also it’s fills in all the context. It’s not just about, hey, I was born in Durham, I grew up in Chapel Hill. You tell history of Durham and Chapel Hill and it’s fascinating. And as well as all the organizations you’ve been involved in. But I’m going to touch on the families in the sense of asking you about your four children because their TFAS alums. I think all four.

Randal Teague [00:39:14] All four are TFAS alums and they have great pride in being that.

Roger Ream [00:39:18] I’ll always remember a comment your daughter made about her experience in our journalism program and the course she took with one of our outstanding professors and how much that meant to her.

Randal Teague [00:39:30] Well, their mother and I take great pride in them, and I take great pride in them also because of their relationship to The Fund for American Studies. And one now is let’s call him a defense analyst in terms of what’s going on in appropriations and things of that nature. I have another one who’s a Broadway producer. He has won a Tony nomination. Should have got two, in my opinion. The daughter that you mentioned, you know, is raising a family and wrote a book called “The Soul So You’ll Shine,” and our youngest son is with Deloitte. So, they’re all having their own lives, their own families and experiences. But they take their TFAS alumni role, position and pride with them wherever they go.

Randal Teague [00:40:21] You shared with me like just last week. Your son, who is in the Broadway business, his new documentary about a bike trip in Wyoming, which was remarkable.

Randal Teague [00:40:35] It really is remarkable. It’s a great story. I think they can find it online under the Teague theatrical group. And that’s not a promotion either. Just to get you to the website to see this remarkable story of he and his wife doing a terrifying mountain bike trip out in Wyoming and what it meant to them as a twosome bringing forth their own families.

Randal Teague [00:40:59] Yeah, I watched it. It was grueling and painful at times, 205 miles across that terrain. But at the same time, I was saying: “Oh, I want to do that.” You serve on many boards, as I’ve mentioned, but one which is dear to you, I know, and I admire a lot is the victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. Of course, they put up a memorial on fourth in New Jersey of the goddess of democracy, which often there are wreath laying ceremonies there by countries that have been captive nations several times a year. And now they have a museum in the heart of downtown Washington. Talk about that program. I had Elizabeth Spalding on in my podcast earlier in the year, who’s director of the museum now. Are you excited about what that museum is accomplishing?

Randal Teague [00:41:51] You know, more excited than ever. It grew out of an organization called the Captive Nations Committee. Captive nations were those that were under the Soviet or the Beijing evil during the Cold War. And it was very difficult as we moved into Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, a new organization, to find support for it, because people would say, but communism, that’s an old thing. It was reputed in 1988. It reputed in 1991 in the Soviet Union. And, you know, it may be repeated in China someday, but it was very hard to find support. It’s so unfortunate that the rise of communism in other countries now, you know, create for us the need for the museum. It’s only a block and a half from the White House. It’s a petite museum. It’s not large like a Smithsonian, but it does tell the complete story of the origins of communism as an ideological doctrine moving way back in history to the more present history. And it does its country by country, and it also does anti-communism, country by country. So, Vaclav Havel and Lech Walesa and people of that nature that helped achieve independence for their countries, freedom from the Soviet control and so forth, is there. But there is so much work ahead for us, as we all know, as communist countries, under the guise of communism like China, carry forward and come post-communist countries that may be communist countries under their noncommunist governments. Speaking of Russia, quite a complicated way, are out there trying to reestablish total control of people’s lives so that, you know, individual choice from the cradle to the grave is not there for anyone. So, we’re working very hard at that.

Randal Teague [00:43:36] I’ve had the opportunity to go there for several special exhibits, one on Cuba, one on hobble toward the standard exhibits that are there all the time. It’s remarkable what’s been done on unfortunately, probably a lower budget than most museums have in this town. But it can only grow from there. I had a breakfast this summer with about eight or ten of our students in July, toward the end of our summer program, and I asked them if any of you been to the Victims of Communism Museum and all their hands went up and I was thrilled. All the students in that program were taken there for a visit. We need to see that a lot of our students go through there because the memory of communism is a fading memory. They have no real practical experience with what it was like, at least during the Cold War. We still have Cuba and Venezuela, North Korea, and as you said, China and Russia. But I think it’s different today. So, it’s more incumbent on us to make sure the rising generation understands the real nature of communism, totalitarianism, authoritarianism. So, I’m glad you’re on that board and that museum accomplishing so much. Well, we’re running out of time. I don’t know if we’ve covered everything, Randy, that we should cover today, but it’s been a pleasure to recount the tremendous growth of TFAS, your role in it, our work together in that regard. Any thoughts about the future and what TFAS needs to tackle next? You’ve touched on some of that already, I guess.

Randal Teague [00:45:11] I think, at this point, I don’t think what else is programmatic. I think what else is expanding the programs that we already have. I think that we’ve demonstrated that if you get the right number of students, you’re going to have the leadership in that number. But your chances of finding somebody that really turns out to be an amazing star in the free to air liberty movement is greater if you do have more students. And we have been accomplishing that. We haven’t been reducing them, but we need to do more of it and in more places. High school would be an example if we could double the number of campuses where we have these programs, weeklong programs. If we can expand our college programs, you know, it’s a good thing to do. But, you know, money is the fuel that drives the organization. With more contributions in the door, we can do more. It’s a matter that this point, I think, of getting more support from individuals, foundations and so forth. And you have been doing a fantastic job in that respect. But given the totality of the socialist movement, let’s call it that, the pro-government movement, the head of government do all movement, you know, in this country and globally, for that matter, we’re up against a lot of competition in this competition that an Olympian says we can win the gold medals only with more resources.

Randal Teague [00:46:43] Yeah, I was on the phone today with the director of our high school programs, and he said he was doing some planning with his team for next summer, and they did have a record number of over 1000 high school students this summer. And I said: “Well, are you trying to figure out how to double the number next year?” And he said: “Well, you get the development team to raise more money, I’ll double the number next year.” It would be easy to double the number next year if I had more money. And so, you’re right. We can increase the numbers as we raise more money. And fortunately, donors have been responding to our requests for more money to have more impact and to reach more students because they’re aware of the fact that we’ve just got to do more in this world with the way this country’s going and the direction of things in the world.

Randal Teague [00:47:29] Absolutely true.

Randal Teague [00:47:31] Well, thank you very much, Randy, for being a guest today on the Liberty and Leadership podcast and for inspiring so much of what we do and for us to do this podcast. It’s been a real pleasure.

Randal Teague [00:47:40] It was quite an honor to be here with you, Roger. Thank you very much.

Randal Teague [00:47:44] Thank you for listening to the Liberty and Leadership podcast. Please don’t forget to subscribe, download, like or share the show on Apple, Spotify or YouTube or wherever you listen to your podcasts. If you like this episode, I ask you to rate and review it. And if you have a comment or question for the show, please drop us an email at podcast@TFAS.org. The Liberty and Leadership Podcast is produced at kglobal studios in Washington, D.C. I’m your host, Roger Ream, and until next time, show courage in things large and small.

About the Podcast

TFAS has reached more than 46,000 students and professionals through academic programs, fellowships and seminars. Representing more than 140 countries, TFAS alumni are courageous leaders throughout the world forging careers in politics, government, public policy, business, philanthropy, law and the media.

Join TFAS President Roger Ream ’76 as he reconnects with these outstanding alumni to share experiences, swap career stories, and find out what makes their leadership journey unique. With prominent congressmen, judges and journalists among the mix, each episode is sure to excite your interest in what makes TFAS special.

If you have a comment or question for the show, please email podcast@TFAS.org.

View future episodes and subscribe at TFAS.org/podcast.


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