The 2013 legislative session was particularly brutal. The Legislature had just voted to implement Obamacare by creating a state insurance exchange. It was an ugly vote with an ugly outcome. On my way home, I stopped by Brandt Realty to see my friend Maurice Clements, mainly to complain. Partially to discuss giving up.
Maurice wasn’t having it. At almost 80, Maurice chided, “I’ve been at this for longer than you’ve been alive. You have a lot more fight left in you. Keep at it. What you’re doing is working. You’re having an impact.” Any thought I had of surrender quickly went away and has stayed away.
Maurice, a former state legislator, was an enthusiastic, energetic supporter of Idaho Freedom Foundation. He was instrumental in IFF’s formation. In 2008, Ralph Smeed and Maurice convinced me to start a free market think tank, similar to one they started in the 1970s, the Center for the Study of Market Alternatives.
CSMA was cutting edge. The effort to have state-focused free market think tanks (similar to The Heritage Foundation and Cato Institute, but at a state level) really didn’t take hold nationally until the early 1990s. During the years to follow, every state had a conservative think tank educating the public and policymakers about free market policy ideas. Every state, that is, except Idaho. This was of great concern to Ralph and Maurice; they wanted to ensure a liberty-oriented educational group took up the mantel again in the Gem State. I like to think that IFF has lived up to their expectations.
Maurice remained active in policy issues for the remainder of his life, holding politicians accountable, critiquing votes and fighting for freedom. He also retained a sense of humor and vitality that was second to none. In 2011, IFF bestowed him a Lifetime Achievement Award.
Maurice passed away last night. One of his colleagues in the Legislature, Lee Barron, told me this morning that Maurice’s passing is “a big loss for Idaho.” It is most certainly a big loss for the Idaho Freedom Foundation, but Maurice’s encouraging words in 2013 still echo in my head. We have a lot more fight left in us. We’ll miss Maurice. And we’ll keep fighting hard for him, for the state of Idaho, for the free society for which Maurice so passionately pursued throughout his life.