Thursday, January 22, 2009

Governor Brewer: Welcome, and good luck.

Yes, we must keep our tax and regulatory burdens low, something I have stood for throughout my 26 years in public life. We must make sure that beleaguered businesses in California and other such overtaxed places hear the music of our commerce and our culture and see brighter prospects in the cities and towns across Arizona.

But that is not nearly enough. In every way we can, we must make our people free.

Free to work and earn a living, to build a business, to build a life. Free to find and speak the truth about their government, and those who would lead it. Free from crime and violence and lawlessness of all kinds.

As most eyes have been on Washington over the past few days, it's likely that readers missed Governor Brewer's inaugural address.

To compare it to President Obama's is an interesting study in contrasts. Obama's skill as a politician has been to invite the listener and the reader to fill in the blanks with his own ideas and values. Brewer is not a charmer of this participatory sort. Obama is prone to lofty talk lapsing into vague appeals to tradition, to the future, to history: Brewer is concrete. In this she is somehow less inspiring, but certainly far more exciting.

Perhaps a decade from now, we will look to Jan Brewer's address as more important than Obama's. The ideas are bigger even if the language is considerably more modest. The State can overcome its financial crisis and its people can overcome these hard times not through heroism of elected officials but through embrace of liberty. Hope is not a longing for a handsome man with a warm smile to guide us to "jobs at a decent wage" and "care [we] can afford". Hope is us: it is made more than a wish by our human and social capital, by our entrepreneurial ability as individuals alone and acting in common cause, so long as the government provides an environment in which we can flourish. A governor who "encourages" this entrepreneurial drive, who reminds us that we are capable instead of reassuring us that if we fail, somebody cares, will contribute positively to our culture and only facilitate recovery and progress. We can and will stand as a light to the several States and to the world, showing the direction that leads to prosperity and proving once and for all that choice, competition, and initiative bring out the best in Man and enable us to lead happier existences by finding better ways to help others do the same.

Yes, my friends and colleagues, this is still the Goldwater State. Bigoted goons like Russell Pearce and Roy Warden, narrow minded culture warriors like Tim Bee, and socialist schemers like Phil Lopes may more often catch our attention, but the classical-liberal substratum did not disappear with the death of the man in whose honor this 'blog was named, nor with the departure of Jim Kolbe from office, nor with the influx of so many who support out of habit a government that does for people what they could do better for themselves. Nor is Congressman Jeff Flake the sole holder of liberal values in office. With the succession of Jan Brewer to the governorship comes not merely worry that the legislature's knuckle-dragging goons will be indulged; Jan Brewer brings hope for liberal renewal.

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