This article first appeared in the Summer 2008 issue of Impact.

What a time to be a Michigan sports fan. The Red Wings went all the way, returning the Stanley Cup to Hockeytown. The Pistons made it again to the Eastern Conference Finals despite facing teams with higher-profile stars. And the Mutants — the youth soccer team I coached this spring — won its season-ending game 5-1.

Yet they didn’t always win. My Mutants lost very early in the season. The players were upset about their first loss, and I had to adjust our efforts. At our next practice I pointed out areas where we could improve. To be more competitive, we had to pass more, be more aggressive toward the ball and take advantage of our speed. Not a single player could complain about the referees — they understood the rules and that they applied equally to everyone. They didn’t argue for an offside exemption or a player subsidy, nor did they encourage the recreational league to provide Mutants with special favors. This may be the politician’s answer, but even the children understand it is a losing strategy.

While politicians, lobbyists and me-first special interests squabble over the biggest slice of the pie in Lansing, the Mackinac Center for 20 years has highlighted the plays that produce success. At times — like on the right-to-work issue — we have been a voice in the wilderness. But this steadfast commitment to core fundamentals, like freedom and civil society, allows us to score key victories when others’ playbooks have failed.

Mackinac Center ideas shape debates, inspire the heart, challenge proponents of big government, encourage entrepreneurship and create opportunity for liberty to take root. These ideas are based on economic principles that have never been compromised.

On Nov. 11, 2008, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy will celebrate its 20th anniversary. Details are forthcoming, but please save the date now and join us at the Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center in East Lansing to recognize the importance that principles, not politics, will play in Michigan’s future.

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Justin W. Marshall is Director of Advancement for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a research and educational institute headquartered in Midland, Mich. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided that the author and the Center are properly cited.