Member Spotlight: author Katie Kieffer
Michael Miller · Sep 01, 2015
It didn’t take author Katie Kieffer long to find her calling. It was waiting for her in her teens.
The Minnesota native started her craft in high school by writing editorials for a major newspaper, founded her own political journal in college, wrote for regional and national real estate journals, now writes weekly for TownHall.com, and last year had her first book, Let Me Be Clear, published by Crown Forum, an imprint of Random House.
Katie’s passion is to awaken and educate Millennials (a generation of 95 million Americans who were born between the late 1970s and the early 2000s) to how they can achieve the American dream despite politicians who don’t have their best interests at heart. Millennials sit with “colossal debt” and many are unemployed or working in jobs that do not utilize their four-year degrees, she explains in her book. Nevertheless, they’re unaware of how the federal government is undermining their individual ability to freely choose medical care, she says, or how it’s also subverting their rights at the state and local levels.
Katie’s first effort at writing for publication was for the St. Paul Pioneer Press. As a high school student, Katie entered a contest for a year-long position as an editorial columnist, and won out of 400 entrants.
“That was my first experience writing editorially,” she says. “I really enjoyed it. I felt like I had the ability to make a positive difference. It was also great to have a choice in topics to write about and research. In school, you don’t have a choice.”
Then at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Katie started an independent journal of political thought.
“Our newspaper was a way to give the students a voice because it seemed as though the only voice that was represented in the official campus newspaper was very left-leaning,” she says. “There were many students on campus who were left without a voice. Our paper provided them with a voice.”
The St. Thomas Standard received national recognition for its efforts, especially after stirring up a bit of controversy by bringing conservative speakers to campus.
“I think it was a successful endeavor because it caused people to think about important issues that they may not have otherwise considered,” Katie says.
She worked in commercial real estate after graduating, temporarily dropping the political writing for business writing. In the process, though, she learned how public policy impacts businesses and entrepreneurs and how taxes affect entrepreneurialism. Katie wrote for trade journals and sales material, but missed writing about politics and culture. A columnist at TownHall.com liked her writing and Katie was given a trial run. The website eventually picked her up as a regular columnist.
Soon a Random House editor came calling.
“She just said they really liked my style of writing and how I had the ability to tackle a lot of different subjects, from the economy to foreign policy to health care to pop culture, which is a bit rare for a writer,” Katie says. “They especially wanted someone in the Millennial voice to discuss a wide range of issues.”
Katie stumbled across the concept of health care sharing while she researched Let Me Be Clear.
“I was looking for a way to opt out without breaking the law and wanted to push for a better overall health care system that will work for everyone, not just drug companies and politicians” Katie says.
She even mentions Samaritan Ministries along with two other health care sharing ministries in chapter 3 of her book, for which she interviewed nearly 300 doctors.
Katie’s most insistent call in the book is for the freedom to make informed choices when it comes to health care, education, or electoral politics. But she says that freedom is disappearing with laws like the Affordable Care Act, which imposes mandates that go against the beliefs of employers, entrepreneurs, and individuals.
“The truth is we will not be able to choose the best provider, treatment, or doctor for our situation if we lose free speech,” she says.
Katie says her faith influences her political beliefs and that Christian Millennials should also allow it to influence theirs.
“What I like to do is go back to the Old Testament and point out that God gave Moses 10 commandments, one of which was ‘Thou shall not steal,’” she says. “Today many of our tax structures—and this does include the Affordable Care Act—supporting our health care regulations violate this commandment, because the commandment against stealing clearly shows that God respects private property.”
She adds that a government that allows individuals to keep profits and choose how to spend them is more generous and benevolent than embracing what some see as “social justice.”
“Oftentimes bureaucrats use ‘social justice’ to justify policies that seize our private property or force us to use our money to support policies that may violate our conscience such as fungible federal funding for Planned Parenthood,” Katie says. “Too many people—when they hear that phrase ‘social justice’—need to double check what that person’s motives are before buying in.”
Let Me Be Clear focuses on what she sees as a betrayal of the trust of the majority of Millennials who voted for President Obama in 2008 and 2012. Katie says that his economic policies and executive decisions have hurt her generation and could set them back for years to come.
One angle she offers her readers in each chapter is to compare current policies to two earlier Democratic presidents: Bill Clinton and John F. Kennedy. While not holding these men up as ideal presidents, she uses the contrast between their relatively traditional policies and the current more liberal policies to point out how far afield this administration has strayed in the context of American history.
“It’s a good lesson in history,” she says. “Our challenges are bigger than the modern era. In each chapter, you see the contrast between presidents and their policies, which is a good refresher for older people but also a great introduction to politics for younger people.”
Katie has learned from feedback that Let Me Be Clear is popular among both Millennials and their parents, who buy the book for their children.
- One young man who was a campaign volunteer for Obama had “really lost all hope” because he didn’t feel the president was keeping his promises once elected. “He came across my book and said he wanted to let me know that now he feels he has hope and direction for the future,” Katie says.
- One twenty-something young woman she met at a book-signing event in Minneapolis received the book for Christmas and came to the signing to get a second copy for a young friend.
- A 12-year-old girl who received a copy from her father had it taken away by her public school homeroom teacher, although her history teacher argued she should be allowed to keep it.