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Confronting the Bias, Lies, and the Special Interests That Divide America
By Larry Elder
St. Martin's Press
HC, 368 pgs. US$24.95/C$36.95
ISBN: 0-3123-0179-0

The Libertarian Limbaugh

By Steven Martinovich
web posted December 2, 2002

Showdown: Confronting the Bias, Lies, and the Special Interests That Divide AmericaPhilosopher Ayn Rand once wrote that government was, at best, a necessary evil needed to protect the rights of the citizens it represents. Libertarians have translated that strident anti-government declaration into the somber belief that government is its best when it is at its smallest. Libertarians, that is, not named Larry Elder, the self-proclaimed "Sage from South Central" who could never be described as somber.

Elder's latest manifesto, Showdown: Confronting the Bias, Lies, and the Special Interests That Divide America, promises and delivers the same outspoken and compelling commentary that The Ten Things You Can't Say in America brought to readers. Elder takes aim at those he calls the victicrats, those who have created "a nation of excuse-making, blame-pointing, government-dependent people," a mindset that promote the notion "government knows best, that has created a citizenry increasingly less inclined to accept personal responsibility."

Although Elder is a favorite among conservatives, Republicans shouldn't fool themselves into believing that he prefers them to Democrats. Accusing Republicans of valuing "power over principle," seen at its worst during the attempt to keep Sen. Jim Jeffords (D-Vermont) from leaving the Republican Party, Elder is of the opinion that there isn't a dime's worth of difference between the two parties. Like a man disappointed by someone he once trusted, Elder even expresses that the Republican Party may be even more dangerous than the Democratic Party.

"The Republican Party professes to support limited government while expanding it. At least the Democratic Party makes no pretence of adhering to the Founding Fathers' vision of a limited government that trusts the people," writes Elder at one point and not perhaps without some justification.

It is with that in mind that Elder launches his assault on modern day America, one that he accuses of betraying the trust that the Founding Fathers left Americans in the form of a constitutional Republic. Working from the assumption that government only exists to safeguard the lives and liberties of her citizens, Elder demolishes the popular shibboleths promoted primarily by the left. Everything from racism industry to the mainstream media comes under Elder's withering fire, a confluence of groups and causes that he accuses of creating a society that is more interested in pursuing politically correct goals like affirmative action than protecting its citizens from September 11-like terrorist attacks.

It's the type of book that earns you many enemies, as Elder has done over the recent years, and there are many special interest groups for him to express his displeasure with. To his credit, Elder avoids ending on a down note and wraps up Showdown with an explanation how the United States would function if it were governed by libertarian principles, that is, the principles as espoused by the Founding Fathers. Constitutionalist conservatives will find little to argue with, at least when it comes to questions of governance, though it's harder to believe that the liberal social policies libertarians tend to favor would capture their fancy.

Showdown occasionally seems like a hastily written effort, most noticeable near the end, but despite that minor defect it is a thoroughly enjoyable argument for empowerment by a persuasive commentator. It's not a popular thing to say since September 11, 2001 that the United States has lost its way, that it is a nation that – despite its economic and military power – is weaker because of Americans themselves. As unpalatable as the message can be, we're lucky to have someone like Larry Elder deliver the message. Unlike many in his field, Elder isn't mired in negativity but instead promotes a positive can-do attitude. Showdown is his wake-up call to friends and enemies alike.

Steven Martinovich is a freelance writer in Sudbury, Ontario.

Buy Larry Elder's Showdown: Confronting the Bias, Lies, and the Special Interests That Divide America at Amazon.com for only $16.22 (35% off)

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