Manhattan Institute President Larry Mone on Jeff Bell, the 3-time U.S. Senate candidate from New Jersey and an early leader in the Reagan Revolution.
Jeff Bell’s influence in the political and policy world is well known, but it deserves to be marked and remembered. From the mid-1970s, Jeff relentlessly advanced a policy agenda to alleviate the stagflation that was gripping the American economy and revive the livelihoods of the American worker. The supply-side revolution that Jeff championed was a brilliant counterstroke to economic sclerosis, and it was no surprise that it caught the attention of then-Governor Reagan, who vigorously promoted policies of tight money and low taxes from the outset of his 1980 presidential campaign.
Much less well known is Jeff’s influence on my own life trajectory. I met Jeff after volunteering to distribute campaign literature during his 1978 bid for Senate and was immediately taken by the intellectual spirit he brought to public life. Although Jeff lost to Bill Bradley in the general election that year, he had upset the liberal Republican Clifford Case in the Senate primary and represented an early spark in the Reagan Revolution. He managed this feat because he was not only a political aficionado but also a serious participant in the battle of ideas. His unique combination of intellectual rigor and commitment to the public good inspired me to follow a similar path.
The world of ideas has lost a great champion with the passing of Jeff Bell. A distinguished thinker and a role model to many of us, Jeff tirelessly labored to defend the best in the American tradition. The Manhattan Institute was fortunate to have him at the helm in its early years. He truly embodied the Institute’s mission of "turning intellect into influence," and he will be greatly missed.
Lawrence J. Mone is president of the Manhattan Institute.