John Andrews

What is the breaking point? Where will the resistance form? Heavy questions, but unavoidable in the current political climate. The productive members of society can only be pushed so far, some say.

What they envision is not defiance of law or a reversal of the election. It is people’s growing disengagement from a new economic order that punishes effort and rewards envy – the creepy future that Barack Obama and the Democrats intend for us. Columnist Michelle Malkin calls that withdrawal, “going Galt.”

Malkin was the first speaker when several hundred Coloradans gathered for a free-market leadership conference in Colorado Springs on March 6-7. Her reference was to John Galt, the individualist hero of Ayn Rand’s novel, “Atlas Shrugged.” She told of seeing a placard at the Denver protest rally for Obama’s stimulus bill signing that warned: “Atlas will shrug.”

So what, you ask. So in human behavior, incentives matter. People are choosers, not automatons. Mess them over enough and they’re out of here. All history proves it. “We pretend to work and they pretend to pay us,” the bitter joke among Soviet factory drones, sums up collectivism’s ultimate failure wherever tried.

Of course in the 1950s, when Rand was writing her epic about a slow-spreading spontaneous strike among Americans fed up with big government, tomorrow supposedly belonged to New Soviet Man. Reagan, Thatcher, and John Paul II, the three champions of freedom who would prove otherwise, weren’t yet heard of.

But we’re now told that 2008, with its routine recession and its celebrity election, showed freedom is untrustworthy after all. Economic makeover via legislative intervention is the fashion fad of 2009, driven by Obama and congresssional Democrats under Pelosi and Reid. Suddenly everyone’s a socialist, crows Newsweek. Suddenly the headlines mirror “Atlas Shrugged,” laments the Wall Street Journal.

The novel -- with John Galt as capitalist superman and Dagny Taggart, Ayn Rand’s alter ego, as railroad tycoon – may not be great literature. But its message of radical self-reliance has inspired millions across the decades. And as a Coloradan, I like it that the story is set right here. “We can’t lose Colorado. It’s our last hope,” says a Taggart employee at the start. A Rocky Mountain valley is the retreat from which Galt triumphs at the end.


John Andrews

John Andrews is former president of the Colorado Senate and the author of "Responsibility Reborn: A Citizen's Guide to the Next American Century"