THE PUBLIUS INSTITUTE
Publius Valerius Poplicola was one of the most renowned leaders in Roman history. He is largely considered the single most influential patriot/general/statesman in the overthrow of the monarchy and the establishment of the Roman republic. Not only was he an accomplished commander of the Roman army and consul of the republic, he was known for his deference to the people – including to slaves and plebs.
The Greek biographer Plutarch described Publius as “the perfect example and looking glass” for future heads of state. At the time of his death, Publius was considered “by universal consent to be the ablest man in Rome, in the arts of both peace and war.” The citizens of Rome mourned Poplicola’s death for an entire year.
In The Federalist Papers, a collection of 85 essays promoting the adoption of the United States Constitution, written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay in 1787-1788, the three founders used the pseudonym “Publius” in honor of Poplicola’s role in establishing the Roman republic, improving the city’s primitive republican laws, and imparting his spirit of moderation, justice, and wisdom to the nascent republic.
Thomas Jefferson described The Federalist Papers in 1788 as “the best commentary on the principles of government, which ever was written.” Writing in 1961, political scientist Clinton Rossiter acknowledged The Federalist Papers as “the most important work in political science that has ever been written, or is likely ever to be written, in the United States. It is, indeed, the one product of the American mind that is rightly counted among the classics of political theory.”
While many other essays representing differing viewpoints on the constitutional debate were written under Roman pen names, Albert Furtwangler contends that “Publius” was a cut above Caesar or Brutus or even Cato. Publius was not a late defender of the republic; he was one of its founders, one of its most cherished leaders, and one of its heroes, having saved the republic on several occasions from tyranny, conspiracy, and military subjugation. The Roman people honored Publius with the name “Publicola,” which means “friend of the people.”
At the Mississippi Center for Public Policy, our goal is to build a Mississippi where individual liberty, opportunity, and responsibility reign because government is limited. Wherever these essential values are threatened, you’ll find us. We’ll be at the State Capitol and the Supreme Court. We’ll be in the boardroom and the classroom. We’ll be on the farm, at the city council, and with the entrepreneurs. You’ll read us in the newspapers and on the blogs, you’ll hear us on the radio and on podcasts, and you’ll see us on television and the internet. We’ll be pushing the freedom agenda at every opportunity in order to make Mississippi a place where America’s promise can be realized – a place where every citizen can participate in the prosperity that follows when freedom is the central policy and the constitution is our guide. Like Hamilton, Madison, and Jay, The Publius Institute will be the voice of the people.
In addition to the work we do in Mississippi on legislative outreach, policy avocation, and litigation, we also have a division of our organization dedicated to thought leadership on matters in and beyond the Magnolia State. This includes writing op-eds in national newspapers, drafting policy white papers on state and federal matters, and recording videos and podcasts designed to address big issues of a political, cultural, economic, and historic significance.
As a tribute to the immense and long-lasting impact on freedom and his role as a leader of the formation of the original republic, and in recognition of the fact that our most influential founding fathers chose his name to represent their ideas in support of our most important document, we chose to name our thought leadership division “The Publius Institute.”
WHY THE PUBLIUS INSTITUTE?
What we’ve learned in the exercise of defending conservatism is that the economic arguments are insufficient on their own. Free market advocacy must be buttressed with something deeper and fuller; something more enduring and worthy than lower taxes and fewer regulations. To be a conservative is more than a belief in markets and limited government; it’s a belief that there are things of value in our Western inheritance that are worth conserving. Many of those values are cultural. They go beyond the merely political and the purely economic.
To stand athwart history yelling “stop,” is to require a reconsideration of those Western Civilization values before dismissing them on our reckless journey towards what the left calls “progress.” Before eschewing the ancient ideas of our forefathers because they appear “oppressive” when viewed through the modern lens of our social justice-enamored elites in academia, media, and business, we owe them a full examination. It is our belief that such an exercise will reveal the truth, beauty, wisdom, and nature which sits at the core of our inheritance. It has been the struggles, wars, humiliations, and suffering that have most influenced and produced our point of view; not our victories and conquests.
Through the Publius Institute, we’ll endeavor to conduct such examinations and attempt to integrate the natural rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness with the natural yearning for meaning. We’ll do this through essays and opinions authored by our staff and by our contributors.