Of the three men credited with launching the New Right in the late 1970s, Paul Weyrich is without question the most important. The other two were Dick Viguerie, the right wing direct mail whiz, and Howard Phillips, head of the poverty program in the Nixon administration.
Weyrich started out as a newspaper and radio reporter, then worked as an aide to Colorado’s Republican senator, Gordon Allott, before plunging into politics. He set up the Heritage Foundation by persuading the Coors family to finance the venture. Later, he went on to help found the Moral Majority with Jerry Falwell; The American Legislative Exchange Council, a group pushing conservative ideas among state legislators; the Conservative Digest; and the Free Congress Foundation. Heritage grew to become the single most important policy shop from Reagan up to now. Most of the ideas for Reagan, Bush senior and Bush junior comes from Heritage, and it offers a strong counterbalance to the more liberal think tanks like Brookings.
He has always been especially strong on Christian values, and espouses what might be considered heretical causes for a right winger. For example, Weyrich is a strong supporter of rail transit over bus, sat on Amtrak’s national board and put out a magazine supporting railroads and urban light rail transit systems. In 2004 a spinal injury confined him to a wheelchair. He lost both his legs.
After 911, Weyrich was among a group of conservative leaders who joined the ACLU and other liberals to oppose the Patriot Act. In this video filmed in 2003, he explains his thinking.