Published in the April Issue of Living Liberty Magazine
When Bob Williams founded the Freedom Foundation in 1991, it was with the understanding that the organization would advance the ideals of individual liberty, free enterprise and limited accountable government.
Nothing has changed, and those objectives still form the basis of everything we do today.
With Bob’s passing, I spent some time reflecting on his life and what it truly means to be a freedom fighter.
Bob spent most of his early life actively fighting for tax reform in his home state of Washington and later carried the fight to the rest of the country. One of the many lessons we can learn from his life is what it means to be a happy warrior.
When I became the CEO of the Freedom Foundation and inherited the rich legacy Bob had left behind, one of the first things that I did was define the Freedom Foundation’s core values. I wanted to make sure that I and the rest of the staff all knew what it meant to be a freedom fighter.
Those values are:
1. We are happy warriors
2. We outwork our rivals
3. We are mission-first innovators
4. We lead from the front
The first of these comes directly from Bob Williams, who embodied exactly what it means to be a happy warrior and lived those values every day of his life.
Bob had no illusions about the difficulty of the job we do; we’re in the battle of our lives for the future of this country, but it never embittered him.
Bob was one of the kindest, gentlest human beings God ever created, and he understood that if we don’t take on this mission every day with a smile on our faces, we likely aren’t doing it for the right reasons.
Bob’s motivation was to make other people’s lives better through policy reform that would put power and money back where it belongs — in the hands of the man or woman who actually earned it.
The other major takeaway we have from Bob’s life is that anything worth fighting for is worth spending a lifetime doing.
Bob spent virtually every day of his life advocating in one form or another for freedom, and in my eyes that’s something to be admired. There will always be people in the world attempting to take away our freedoms, and if we don’t have people like Bob to stand in their way, we’ll become just another failed country to be over-run by socialism.
Fortunately, by creating the Freedom Foundation, Bob created a place that today employs more than 50 happy warriors who show up to work each day to give public employees the gift of freedom to from their unions.
And by doing so, we also empower the nation as a whole by rendering irrelevant the largest special interest group — government employee unions.
Our recent victory in Lincoln County perfectly encapsulates our credo, and I like to think it would have brought a smile to Bob’s face had the six-year saga not ended at almost the same moment Bob’s life did.
In 2016, the Freedom Foundation contacted leaders in every Washington county, including Lincoln, and asked if they’d consider passing a resolution pledging that all future contract negotiations between the county and the unions representing its public employees would be open to the public.
Previously, whenever contracts were negotiated, the deals were cut behind closed doors. Think about that for just a second. The people whose money was being haggled over not only didn’t have a seat at the bargaining table but were told they couldn’t even watch the process.
The Lincoln County Commissioners passed the resolution, but when it came to negotiations, the unions walked away. They said they’d rather not bargain at all than do it in public.
One union, Teamsters 690, actually sued the county for the alleged crime of working with the Freedom Foundation to open these negotiations.
The Freedom Foundation’s former lead attorney, David Dewhirst (who’s now the solicitor general in Montana), stepped up to represent the county and, after six years of fighting, we finally got a decision on March 8 — one week before Bob Williams passed away — that affirms Lincoln County’s right to negotiate in public.
Our battle within Lincoln County, just like all our battles with unions, exemplifies perfectly what Bob created the Freedom Foundation to do — advance individual liberty, free enterprise, and limited accountable government.
During one of my last conversations with Bob at a Freedom Foundation dinner, he told me he enjoyed reading this very publication each month after I had appeared on one of the front covers.
It’s the privilege of my lifetime to be able to continue his legacy with the support of every single one of you, and I can only hope I can one day look back on my life and believe I had half the impact that Bob Williams did for so many.