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Around midnight on April 14th, 1860, the rider on the first westbound run of the Pony Express clattered into San Francisco, California, on his horse. The mail he carried had been borne at a gallop across the desert of the American West. He was the last rider in a ten-day relay that began in St. Joseph, Missouri. Ultimately, the journey of the Pony Express would continue criss-crossing the country for eighteen months, transmitting messages about the gold rush in California, Lincoln’s inauguration, and the Civil War.
The Pony Express company conceded to the transcontinental telegraph in 1861, losing the government mail contract the company’s founders had sought. But it had forever heightened expectations of speed in letter delivery, and, of course, had gained a place in the American imagination.
155 years have passed since that day, and there was no better celebration of the Pony Express’s memory than Google’s instantly iconic doodle last week. And there was no better entity to do it: The Pony Express’s founders sought to compartmentalize and distribute a 1900 mile pilgrimage across America in order to speed up communication. Google now compresses massive amounts of data and connects billions of people in order to put a world of information at our fingertips.
The doodle was one of Google’s occasional interactive logos, meaning it was actually a short video game, and it can now be found and played in the archives, here: http://goo.gl/AJldjs
It was designed by Mark Ivey, Kris Hom, Brian Murray, Kevin Laughlin, Greg Capuano, and Matt Cruickshank.
The game’s soundtrack kicks in, which is a full-throttle clip-clopping gallop effect, three beats up and three beats down, with two extra beats which somehow ratchet up the excitement and heighten the sense of riding a slightly out-of-control horse in a slightly out-of-control commercial venture.
Real life riders ended their stint with either a handsome paycheck or various terrible incidents, such as exhaustion, injury, or attacks by native tribes. The Google pony rider faces cactuses, avalanches, rocks, structures, and bandits. Google’s pony has its own idea of things, and glares at the rider for mishaps, sympathizes about the snowbanks, mocks him for falling in water troughs, and claims all the credit at the end of the ride. The pony has its independent streak, but as the doodle’s summary says, “Ultimately, what's more important than earning trust and respect from a horse?”
The one thing rider and pony always agree on is the importance of the letters, which you collect at top speed as you race through the route. The game entertainingly calls on references which are just at the corners of cultural memory, such as the special mail bag, called a Mochila, developed for the Pony Express to fit over the top of a saddle. In the game, when your pony skids to a halt at the station, the mail bag flips forward through the air with the rider, both landing in place in a funny way on the next horse.
Although the silliness of the illustrations invites us to laugh, we’re also earnestly engaged with the rider’s task of getting the mail to its destination. Whatever the obstacles of his adventure, he is met at the end by a glorious reception line in an old-timey town, people cheering and waving parasols as pony and messenger sprint to the final station.
There's no better medium than the video game to create an experience of the virtues of the Pony Express—rationality and independence. We can see in the Pony Express game in what ways a video game is like a work of art.
In The Romantic Manifesto, Ayn Rand said, “The proper forms of art present a selective re-creation of reality… art isolates and integrates those aspects of reality which represent man’s fundamental view of himself and of existence.”
Paintings revealed the artist’s recreation of visual perception—of light, color, shape, and depth. Music revealed the musician’s choices about audio perception. Motion pictures brought the dimension of time into art. (Incidentally, the first motion picture ever created featured a running horse, and solved the mystery of whether the horse completely leaves the ground while running: It does.)
Play Google's Pony Express game here: http://goo.gl/AJldjs
Review of "Bioshock" by Patrick Stephens
Heroism and the Transcontinental Railroad by Frank Bryan
What is Objectivism? by William R Thomas
What does Objectivism Consider to be Art (Aesthetics)? by William Thomas
The Romantic Manifesto by Ayn Rand, at Amazon.com
What Art Is: The Esthetic Theory of Ayn Rand by Louis Torres and Michelle Kamhi at Amazon.com
Apr 03, 2015
Barack Obama is pushing for a nuclear weapons agreement with Iran because he believes “the more people interact with open societies, the more they will want to be part of an open society,” according to former NATO ambassador Ivo Daalder (quoted in the Washington Post).
Why Obama is giving in to Iran
The virtues of the open society
The Islamist enemies of freedom
Islamists reject the Enlightenment
Obama rejects Americanism
Americans cannot tell the difference between ethics and politics.
Indiana's freedom to be immoral
The difference between politics and ethics
Secular sharia: you are required to be good
- D. Moskovitz, “Is Homsexuality Moral?”
- William R Thomas, “Freedom of Religion and Freedom to Value” Summer, 2009.
- William R Thomas, “Mississippi Conservatives Betray Freedom and Reality” April 4, 2014.
Mar 27, 2015
It is again Human Achievement Hour! On March 28, celebrate all that the modern world offers us as a result of the efforts of the human mind!
Our friends at the Competitive Enterprise Institute came up with this idea to crystalize the efforts and sentiments of many other groups and individuals opposing the morally ugly trend of marking what is called “Earth Hour.” This is the call for everyone turn off their lights between 8:30 and 9:30 pm local time to “protect the planet.”
Hudgins is a senior scholar and director of advocacy at The Atlas Society.
In a Politico article Sean McElwee of Demos argues that, in the words of his title, “Millennials Are More Racist Than You Think.” In fact, the Pew study he cites shows the contrary and reflects on his own race-tainted ideology.
How tolerant are millenials?
McElwee equates leftism with antiracism
The damage of leftist attitudes on race
Millennials as the individualist solution
- Edward Hudgins, “Martin Luther King's Dream and Today's Racial Nightmare.” August 27, 2013.
- William Thomas, “How Racist Are We?” Summer, 2010.
- William Thomas, “Objectivism is Not Anti-Family,” August 13, 2014.
“Is it possible to live to be 500?”
Hudgins is a senior scholar and the director of advocacy at The Atlas Society.
- David Kelley, “Life: Your Adventure In Entrepreneurship.” Summer 2008.
- Edward Hudgins, “Transhumanism vs. a Conservative Death Ethos.” August 20, 2014.
- William Thomas, "Transhumanism: How Does it Relate to Objectivism?"
Is it narcissism to think you are better than other people at something? Is it self-esteem to just regard yourself as one of the herd?
Headlines this week have blared “How Parents Create Narcissist Children” and “Do Parents Nurture Narcissists By Pouring On The Praise?” They are reporting on “Origins of Narcissism in Children,”a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Self-esteem means you matter
It's not narcissism to know when you're the best
- "Is High Self Esteem Bad for You?" by Robert Campbell and Walter Foddis (July/August 2003)
- "What Really Matters: Putting Social Status in Context" by William R Thomas (Summer 2011)
- "Objectivism and the Psychology of Self-Esteem" by Nathaniel Branden (1998)
Are you a whiner who doesn't know how rich you are?
Obama's poverty humbug
SNAP is a rich subsidy
The current debate over the safety of oil trains is the latest front in the anti-industrial movement's war on fossil fuels.
When brilliant, productive industrialists discovered how to “frack” for oil, and when others built huge projects to make use of sub-arctic oil sands, they unleashed a torrent of petroleum from places in North America that had never produced much oil before—places like North Dakota and Alberta. That's oil that heats homes and powers vehicles—it's the lifeblood of our modern click-and-ship economy, empowering individuals to live, travel, and trade as we choose.
The war on oil trains
The enemies of industry struck back. They can't admit that they just want high oil prices, so instead they act to block the oil from getting to market. President Obama has just vetoed Keystone pipeline authorization, and other pipeline projects face political obstructionism as well.
Promote safety through law, not regulation
Fracknation: the movie.
Feb 06, 2015
A recent piece by Mike LaSusa entitled “The Nightmare Libertarian Project to Turn This Central American Country Into Ayn Rand's Paradise,” published on Alternet and reposted on Salon, is a disjointed collection of out-of-context semi-factoids that bear no relationship to the title. The piece reveals what's wrong with the minds of the leftists who seem to lap this stuff up.
Crime in Honduras
LaSusa tells us that stating with a military coup in 2009 Honduras has had a succession of governments that have sought the “privatization of Honduran society” and “the militarization of public security efforts.” Crime in the country is out of control and growing, with gang activity contributing to corruption of the police and government. But a group of leftists headed off a constitutional amendment to give “permanent status to the country’s militarized police force” which is under the control of the president. Further, while only 27 percent of the people have confidence in the ability of the police to deal with crime, 73 percent think the military should be involved in crime-fighting.
What does this have to do with libertarianism? Nothing!
LaSusa complains about the government’s “heavy-handed” approach to fighting crime. Since he is concerned with crime but also with the country’s constitution, shouldn't he prefer a more militarized police to a military prone to pulling off coups?
Be that as it may, what does it have to do with libertarians? For the record, libertarians oppose police states with open-ended powers but argue that the basic function of government is to provide police protection from the sort of crime about which LaSusa complains. But so far he offers no indictment of libertarians whatsoever.
Zones of development
LaSusa then turns to a discussion of special employment and economic development zones (Zonas de Empleo y Desarrollo Económico or ZEDEs) proposed by the Honduran government. Private investors would develop infrastructure, set up enterprises, establish educational and policing systems and, in effect, write laws. He quotes from the ZEDE website that they seek to provide “a 21st century, business-efficient, non-politicized, transparent, stable, system of administration, plus a special police and institutional security to overcome regional issues and meet world standards.” Sounds pretty good! And he tells us that lots of libertarian thinkers from around the world had a hand in developing this concept.
So are ZEDEs a bad idea? Why? LaSusa seems to have the usual leftist visceral hatred of private folks with money making money, since he complains about private investors exploiting “Honduras’ voluntary surrender of its national sovereignty to make a ‘legal’ profit.” Does he prefer the current corrupt system? And would private investors create conditions any worse than the poverty-stricken, crime-ridden dump that is Honduras today?
No libertarian nightmare
But the discussion of ZEDE's is irrelevant, it turns out. LaSusa provides us with no information whatsoever about how ZEDEs are functioning and no recitation of nightmare stories. Perhaps this is because none are actually functioning as yet. LaSusa tells us that the ZEDEs were declared unconstitutional. The government tried to change the law to allow them to operate legally but failed, and is now trying to allow ZEDEs and local municipalities to request help for security from the militarized police. And the problem is, what?
LaSusa’s attention then wanders to the fact that since 20008 the United States has provided $65 million in aid to Honduras for security. Libertarians generally oppose all foreign aid but again, where is the “nightmare?” Let's see: no libertarian policy has actually been put into effect in Honduras, so how on earth can Honduras's current problems be due to libertarianism? As Ayn Rand would say—Blank out!
Crony, Corrupt Honduras
Let’s put this discussion in a wider context by considering how Honduras does on the Index of Economic Freedom. (Full disclosure: I developed this index concept at the Heritage Foundation in the late 1980s.) Honduras scores only 57.4 out of 100, meaning it is “Mostly Unfree.” Of special note, it only scored a 30 on protecting property rights. And it only scored 26 for freedom from corruption. Overall, Honduras ranks only 116th out of 178 countries evaluated, in terms of economic freedom. This country is not nor ever has been an Ayn Rand laissez-faire paradise.
Here is a crucial point that leftists refuse to acknowledge. A free market system is built on the moral premise that individuals should deal with one another based on mutual consent. This requires the rule of law with governments protecting private property.
In her novel Atlas Shrugged, Rand’s villains are corrupt crony businessmen who use government force against competitors or to extract money from them through confiscatory taxes. The heroes are true capitalists who prosper by creating goods and services to sell to willing customers.
When LaSusa complains about a libertarian “Peruvian economist” he is no doubt referring to Hernando DeSoto. DeSoto documents how governments in his native country as well as throughout the region are crony, or what he calls “mercantilist,” systems. They are the principal reason that the poor are denied the opportunity to prosper through their own efforts. To the extent that ZEDEs would afford everyone a “non-politicized, transparent, stable, system of administration, plus a special police and institutional security,” this is just what Honduras needs.
Immigrating to freedom
LaSusa’s attention deficit discussion then swings to immigration. He complains about “U.S. government practice of deporting thousands of Hondurans with criminal records” thus contributing to crime in Honduras. What does he expect the United States to say? “Welcome criminals! Come here where the pickings are better!”
He also complains about deportation from the United States of women and children immigrants. But libertarians tend to oppose such deportations and favor an open and welcoming immigration policy. LaSusa also complains about America’s war on drugs, but then, so do all libertarians.
LaSusa’s meandering mess offers no indictment of libertarians. He offers no evidence, data or logical connection at all between pro-freedom policies and Honduras’s sad state. Yet he declares the “disastrous results” of “neoliberal economic prescriptions.”
LaSusa’s piece is most interesting for what it reveals about the leftist mind. It is unfocused. It seems self-satisfied with lists of disconnected factoids that in no way hold together. A tone of indignation alone is supposed to prove the fallacies of political opponents.
The goal of DeSusa’s piece seems to be to damn libertarians and Objectivists in the minds of fellow leftist by plucking at their emotional chords rather than offering serious discussion concerning problems like crime and poverty that he claims to want to vanquish.
Relying on self-delusional rather than clear-eyed, honest analysis simply ensures that such problems will continue. All this obfuscation should suggest that there is much in the libertarian and Objectivist approaches to society and economy that should be seriously explored!
Hudgins is director of advocacy and a senior scholar at The Atlas Society. Posted February 6, 2015.
- William R Thomas, “Objectivism Is Not Anti-Family.” August 13, 2014. Thomas called Salon out the last time they got Rand wrong.
- Laurie Rice, “Myths About Ayn Rand: A Challenge To Journalists.” Rice demands that the likes of the Salon writer get Rand right for a change.
- Edward Hudgins, “Make Trade, Not War.“
Jan 27, 2015
The anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death
camp is now marked as Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Ideas have consequences
Ideas can destroy civilizations
Evil ideas can metastasize to destroy the civilizations they infect. Humans have butchered each other since humans have been around. But they’ve also built cultures and institutions based on respect for the autonomy and dignity of individuals and on the highest human aspirations. It has become a cliché, but a true one, that Germany was the land of Beethoven and Schiller yet succumbed to Nazi brutality. The causes of the rise of Nazism are complex, but ultimately that rise showed that there is no guarantee that civilizations will endure without their defenders.
Without intellectual defenders, the good will perish
Nazi ideas live on in Islamism
Cultural relativism gives in to evil
Hudgins is director of advocacy and a senior scholar at The Atlas Society.
- David Kelley, “The Assault on Civilization.” (September 13, 2001.)
- Edward Hudgins, “Israeli Independence and Libertarian Blindness.” (May 6, 2014.)
- Edward Hudgins and William R Thomas , “The Challenges of the 21st Century.” (October 4, 2013.)
- William R Thomas, “Crimea - Russian Nationalism Imperialism.” (March 19, 2014.)
- Are some people poor? Have the government give them money!
- Should women and men both be treated like the individuals they are? Make it illegal to treat them any other way!
- Is college education a good thing? Make it free, by law!
The concrete-bound mentality, Ayn Rand explained, is one that focuses on what can be seen and eschews thinking in the abstract about long-range consequences that can't be seen.
Obama's policy ideas are concrete-bound
- William R Thomas, "The Conceptual Faculty." (video lecture).
Jan 22, 2015
In his 2015 State of the Union speech, President Obama counted on the American people being too ignorant to see that he was offering the same old failed policies and sugar-coated demagoguery.
Divide and exploit
Job of confusing
Not so stupid?
Hudgins is director of advocacy and a senior scholar at The Atlas Society. Posted January 22, 2015.
Hollande ignoring Islamists
French anti-Semitism and Israel's founding
A sanctuary for Jews today
It is about Islam
Hudgins is director of advocacy and a senior scholar at The Atlas Society. Posted on January 16, 2015.
- Edward Hudgins, “Global Jihad vs. Islamic Enlightenment. “ January 9, 2015.
- Edward Hudgins, “Israeli Independence and Libertarian Blindness.” May 6, 2014.
- David Kelley, Does Islam Need a Reformation? Spring 2011.
- Edward Hudgins, “Allah Bless America!” November-December 2002.
Jan 09, 2015
How many Islamist massacres?
Islam values violence
A new Dark Age?
A ray of Islamic hope
Hudgins is director of advocacy and a senior scholar at The Atlas Society.
- Robert Bidinotto, “Cartoon Journalists.” Winter 2005.
- Edward Hudgins, “The Jihad Against Free Speech.” Winter 2005.
- Edward Hudgins, “The Means and Ends of Islamists.” July/August 2005.
- David Kelley, “9/11 and the War Against Modernity.” May 2002.
Friends of freedom have lost a friend. Martin Anderson, 78, a Hoover Institution scholar and policy advisor to presidents, has passed away. Among his achievements were helping to eliminate the military draft and heading off a national ID card.
Anderson was a life-long fighter for freedom. From the 1960s he was part of Ayn Rand’s New York circle and he helped make real the principles of individual liberty and limited that she espoused.
In his 1964 book The Federal Bulldozer: A Critical Analysis of Urban Renewal, 1942-1962 Anderson demonstrated how government policy was actually destroying affordable housing and at huge taxpayer expense.
Martin Anderson’s fight for liberty
Anderson was a leading advocate of eliminating the military draft. In 1968 he was instrumental in persuading then-candidate Richard Nixon to make replacing conscription with an all-volunteer army a central part of his presidential campaign. Nixon carried through on that promise, at least.
Anderson made his mark as domestic policy advisor for Ronald Reagan. For example, at a cabinet meeting early in Reagan’s first term, Attorney General William French Smith presented a plan to require a national ID card for anyone working in the United States, in part to deal with illegal immigrants.
Anderson, who normally didn’t speak at those meetings, raised his hand and, when called on by Reagan, explained that such a card could easily be faked or lost. So why not tattoo a number on everyone’s wrist? Reagan immediately understood the illusion to Nazi practices and the threat such a “Papers please” dictate would pose to liberty. The proposal died there and then.
Documenting Reagan’s legacy
Anderson, a trustee of the Ronald Reagan Library, documented the achievements of the Reagan administration in his aptly-titled book Revolution. And as a Reagan biographer with his wife Annelise, he set the record straight about the country’s 40th president.
For example, Reagan, a hardline anti-communist, was perceived by many as a war-monger. But when I visited Anderson’s Hoover Institute office in the mid-2000s, he explained to me that too few people appreciated just how strongly Reagan had as a top priority—along with cutting taxes and eliminating government intrusion in the economy—eliminating the possibility of nuclear war. Before Reagan was elected, America practiced a strategy of “mutual assured destruction.” The notion was that if the Soviets launched a nuclear attack on the United States, this country would retaliate by destroying every major Soviet city. Both countries would be destroyed and fear of such a holocaust would keep the country safe.
Reagan rejected this “balance of terror” strategy. With the Strategic Defense Initiative he sought to create a system to protect American cities by shooting down incoming Soviet nukes. And on a parallel track he sought to negotiate actual reductions in the number of nuclear weapons, not out of a naïve view of benevolent Communist leaders but under the sound principle of “trust but verify.”
Martin and Annelise documented the Gipper’s success in their 2010 book Reagan's Secret War: The Untold Story of His Fight to Save the World from Nuclear Disaster.
Martin Anderson’s legacy
Anderson’s scholarly work also included Welfare: The Political Economy of Welfare Reform in the United States published in 1978, a few years before he brought his insights to the Reagan administration. And his 1992 book Impostors in the Temple: The Decline of the American University called attention to a reality that is all-too clear to day. In the words of the book’s subtitle, “American intellectuals are destroying our universities and cheating our students of their future.” We're living that future now and seeing the effects that Anderson predicted.
Martin Anderson’s was a life of the mind and a life of achievement. His life should be celebrated and he will be missed.
Hudgins is Director of Advocacy and a senior scholar at The Atlas Society. Posted January 5, 2015.
Andrew Cuomo, the Governor of New York, is half-hearted about economic freedom but is full-on against value-creation.
Libertarian reasons for freedom...
...aren't Objectivist reasons for freedom.
Add casinos to fix the economy?
Dec 23, 2014
The “Ell Donsaii” series by Laurence Dahners is a series of science-fiction novels that a certain kind of Ayn Rand fan could love.
If you look for fiction about achievement, reason, courage, and integrity, you will find it in this series. And if you look for fiction that understands how creativity and private business underlie the economy and society, look no further.
Interstellar shouts to the world that Americans should be achievers, but then it steals from them the ability to succeed.
Interstellar film values
The Earth’s crisis, though never fully explained, is put down at least in part to human arrogance and industrial farming. No one seems able to engineer a response to the plagues, nor does anyone appear to be trying. Environmentalists will feel vindicated.
Nov 24, 2014
Are you, like me, pro-immigrant and in favor of a path to legal residency for illegal immigrants? If you are, you nevertheless must understand that President Obama’s use of executive action in this matter undermines what’s left of our Constitution, and this is a far greater evil than the problem he is trying to address.
Obama’s actions on immigration
Obama claims he’s frustrated by the failure of Congress to pass legislation to give many of the estimated 12 million “undocumented” immigrants a way to legitimize their residency and perhaps even become citizens. Thus, he has announced that he will act unilaterally to achieve this goal using executive powers he claims to have, power he declared dozens of times until recently that he didn’t have. And he challenges the Republican Congress to send him an acceptable bill that deals with the immigration situation.
Obama’s motives vs. immigrants’ virtues
Abuses of power
Rule of law
Whether you’re Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative, you need to understand that the rule of law and constitutional limits on political power are essential to a free society. Imagine the horrific instability of abandoning the rule of law for the whims of a capacious ruler. A new president reinstates the immigration rules suspended by Obama, makes them even harsher, and suspends collection of all corporate taxes. A later president suspends the enforcement of all drug laws and reinstates corporate taxes with penalties and late fees for those who didn’t pay because of the prior suspension.
Four Facts for Conservatives about Immigration Policy, Edward Hudgins
Obama vs. the GOP
The GOP civil war
Pipeline, Obamacare, or disunity?
Unite in liberty?
Hudgins is the director of advocacy and a senior scholar at the Atlas Society. His latest book is The Republican Party’s Civil War: Will Freedom Win?
November 7, 2014 — Some 5,000 demonstrators in Minneapolis denounced the Washington Redskins’ team name just before the team’s game with the Minnesota Vikings. Sure, your visceral reaction is to hope footballs connect with their 5,000 butts. But let’s use this as an opportunity to understand the warped American liberal mind.
Hudgins is director of advocacy and a senior scholar at The Atlas Society.
Note: If you missed this morning's show, don't fret: we'll post a recording of the show as soon as the producers make it available.
- Who: Ed Hudgins, director of advocacy for The Atlas Society, is a radio guest tomorrow morning on "Your money talks"
- Topic: The GOP electoral win, the Fed and monetary policy
- When: Thursday, Novermber 6, 7:40am PST
- What radio station? You can listen live on KSPA (am 1510) in Orange County, California and the Greater L.A. Inland Empire and on KFSD (am 1450) in North San Diego County.
- Listen online: Live streaming will be at www.financialnewsandtalk.com. ( On the left side of www.financialnewsandtalk.com. are buttons for each station, clicking on either one will allow anyone to hear the broadcast live.)
Is Ayn Rand the epitome of bad taste?
That’s the one thing the New York literary world can agree on, it seems.
William R Thomas is director of programs at The Atlas Society.
October 22, 2014 -- Governor Huckabee, you recently reaffirmed
your strong opposition to same-sex marriage and said “If the Republicans want to lose guys like me and a whole bunch of still God-fearing Bible-believing people, go ahead and just abdicate on this issue.” If the GOP takes this path, you say “I’m gone, I’ll become an independent.”
Please, do a huge favor for all who want the GOP to become a consistently liberty-loving party: Leave!
As you know, three factions are fighting a civil war for the soul of the party.
Establishment Republicans like Mitt Romney and John McCain want to keep the current big-government welfare state, just tweak it to make it more efficient. The Goldwater-Reagan and libertarian-leaning Republicans believe the current regime is collapsing and must be fundamentally transformed, with radical reductions in government control over our lives and with private options replacing most social welfare programs.
Then there are the extreme social conservatives like you who give priority to an agenda of using government to restrict liberty and to engineer society based on your religious ideology. You are especially obsessed with banning same-sex unions.
But a basic test of a proposed policy is whether it limits the liberty of others or takes their money. Same-sex marriage does neither, and it is presumptuous to use government to dictate what kind of contracts consenting adults can make. Don’t like gay marriage? Then don’t marry a gay. And I would think you, a family values man, would prefer that gays commit to long-term monogamous relationships. Further, how would you even know whether the gay couple down the street has a piece of paper in the bottom of their sock drawer with the letter M-A-R-R-I-A-G-E inscribed on it?
You ask, should government force business folks, against their religious convictions, to provide services at same-sex ceremonies? My consistent pro-individual liberty answer is that government should neither bar gays from marrying nor force others to provide them such services.
But let’s look at the effects of your overall agenda on the GOP. Currently white evangelicals make up a major voting bloc within the party yet a declining portion of the general population. Of voters aged 50 to 64, 29 percent are white evangelicals, while only 11 percent are unaffiliated with a religion. But of voters 18 to 29, only 12 percent are white evangelicals, while a full 35 percent are unaffiliated. And the Millennials not only are more socially liberal in general: some 60 percent of younger Republicans support gay marriage.
Speaking of young people, only 37 percent of voters aged 18 to 29 backed Romney in 2012, down from the 43 percent who backed Bush in 2004. Your agenda would ensure that the GOP lose the voters who will make up the majority in the future.
Worse, there is a new class of young entrepreneurs, the Silicon Valley types, who are visionary individualists who love their work, who generally favor a free market system, and who are socially liberal. But few want anything to do with a Republican Party that includes you pushing a religious agenda. You are making them into future Democrats.
If you leave the GOP and take with you some of your more fanatical followers, the young and the entrepreneurial could well find their way into the party’s ranks.
But I doubt you would take with you as many followers as you think. Surveys indicate, for example, that about half of Tea Party members are socially conservative like you and the other half are more libertarian. But the priorities of most Tea Party social conservatives are to stop the growth of the state, of out-of-control spending, and of regulations over every aspect of our lives. They understand that as social conservatives, they will simply see their liberty to live in accordance with their own values further restricted if they tilt at windmills like gay marriage while the “total control” regime in Washington further metastasizes.
By the way, I’m a secular, married heterosexual with two wonderful little fraternal twin daughters. I don’t want them ruled by statist apparatchiks of any party.
In any case, you are not even a limited-government guy in areas where many of your co-religionists are. You spoke positively about federal government-imposed Common Core education standards. Want the feds to apply those to standards to home schooling as well? You were a big-taxing, big-spending governor in Arkansas. As Club for Growth spokesman Barney Keller rightly explained in 2012, “[Huckabee] believes that government should play a role in the lives of everyday people and he adopted a sort of populist, anti-capitalism stance.”
It would be best for the GOP and for the country if you and your followers stay in the party and back a pro-liberty, limited government agenda. But if you insist that the GOP back your losing, anti-liberty agenda, chasing away the support of young people and others as the party further declines, it would be best if you leave.
Hudgins is director of advocacy and senior scholar at The Atlas Society and recently produced the book The Republican Party’s Civil War: Will Freedom Win?
For further information:
*Edward Hudgins, “GOP Sound Bites vs. Libertarian Trends.” October 21, 2014.
*Edward Hudgins, “Family Values Still Threaten GOP.” May 30, 2014.
*Edward Hudgins, “Questions for Conservatives about Gay Marriage and Sock Drawers.” July 1, 2011.