An oa­sis of lib­erty in the Ari­zona sun

The Denver Post - - PERSPECTIVE - By Ge­orge F. Will

phoenix» s a boy, Barry Gold­wa­ter Jr., son of the for­mer sen­a­tor and 1964 Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee, would step out of his fa­ther’s house and shoot at tin cans 50 yards away. Now 78, he says he could fire in any di­rec­tion and not en­dan­ger “any­thing but a cac­tus.” His fa­ther, born in 1909 in Ari­zona ter­ri­tory, three years be­fore state­hood, built the house on a bluff where, as an ado­les­cent, he rode his horse there and slept un­der the stars. There were about 30,000 peo­ple in Phoenix.

The house is now in the na­tion’s 12thlargest metropoli­tan area (about 4.6 mil­lion). Ari­zona’s pop­u­la­tion, which was ap­prox­i­mately 200,000 when the fu­ture sen­a­tor was born and 750,000 when he was elected in 1952, is now ap­proach­ing 7 mil­lion. To­day’s gov­er­nor, Doug Ducey, is demon­strat­ing the con­tin­u­ing per­ti­nence of the lim­ited-gov­ern­ment con­ser­vatism with which Sen. Gold­wa­ter shaped the mod­ern GOP, af­ter him­self be­ing shaped by life in the leave-me-alone spirit of the wide open spa­ces of near-fron­tier Ari­zona.

Last year, Ducey, 52, told Na­tional Re­view, “If you want to learn some­thing new, you need to read some­thing old. As Barry Gold­wa­ter wrote in ‘Con­science of a Con­ser­va­tive,’ ‘My aim is not to pass laws, it’s to re­peal them.’ ” Ducey was preach­ing what he al­ready had prac­ticed.

He took of­fice in Jan­uary 2015, as the Su­per Bowl was about to be played in sub­ur­ban Glen­dale. The head of a state agency vowed that he was go­ing to stage a sting to put Uber out of busi­ness, thereby ben­e­fit­ing Uber’s taxi and limou­sine com­peti­tors. Ducey says he fired the man and abol­ished the agency.

Ducey has sided with Airbnb against lo­cal gov­ern­ments re­strict­ing it in or­der to pro­tect com­peti­tors, and has re­moved gov­ern­ment-im­posed lim­its (ben­e­fit­ing large beer brands) on the growth of mi­cro­brew­eries. He does not want Ari­zona to be part of “the per­mis­sion so­ci­ety.”

This is the ti­tle of a new book by Ti­mothy San­de­fur, a lit­i­ga­tor for the Gold­wa­ter In­sti­tute, a lib­erty-pro­mot­ing think tank lo­cated 3.5 miles from the gov­er­nor’s of­fice. San­de­fur doc­u­ments how far Amer­ica has lapsed from the Founders’ premise that our rights pre-ex­ist gov­ern­ment, which is in­sti­tuted to pro­tect them. To­day, Amer­i­cans’ rights are in­creas­ingly re­stricted to those priv­i­leges that gov­ern­ment grants for its pur­poses.

Ducey re­cently demon­strated his un­der­stand­ing of this re­gard­ing the rogue bar­ber. A Tuc­son cos­me­tol­ogy stu­dent, who him­self was once home­less, dis­turbed the State Board of Cos­me­tol­ogy’s seren­ity by giv­ing — with­out pos­sess­ing a bar­ber’s li­cense — free hair­cuts to home­less peo­ple. Ducey asked the board to dis­mount from its high horse and rec­og­nize “an act of char­ity that we should be cel­e­brat­ing.” About a third of Amer­i­cans now need some form of gov­ern­ment per­mis­sion to do their cho­sen work, and Ducey wants Ari­zona to be an oa­sis of lib­erty in a so­ci­ety plagued by ex­ces­sive oc­cu­pa­tional li­cens­ing.

Born in Ohio, he came here to at­tend Ari­zona State Univer­sity and be­came a busi­ness­man who at­tended Gold­wa­ter In­sti­tute events. Af­ter he joined the founder of Cold Stone Cream­ery ice cream shops and opened 1,400 na­tion­wide, he was elected state trea­surer, then gov­er­nor. Seek­ing ad­vice from the best, he called for­mer In­di­ana Gov. Mitch Daniels, who sug­gested ap­point­ing to his ad­min­is­tra­tion busi­ness peo­ple look­ing for new chal­lenges. (Daniels asked, “Do you know any­one who plays golf on Tues­days and is mis­er­able?”)

Ducey wants Ari­zona to have a “West Coast vibe with a Mid­west­ern work ethic,” and he cheek­ily calls Cal­i­for­nia’s Demo­cratic Gov. Jerry Brown “my part­ner in grow­ing Ari­zona’s econ­omy” be­cause Cal­i­for­nia’s busi­ness cli­mate is a pow­er­ful in­cen­tive for firms to re­lo­cate in Ari­zona, where more than 60 per­cent of its res­i­dents were born else­where. Ari­zona’s motto is “Di­tat Deus” (“God En­riches”), but His work can be fa­cil­i­tated by Ducey’s goal of get­ting the state’s in­come tax “as close to zero as pos­si­ble.”

He calls him­self a “full-spec­trum con­ser­va­tive,” in­clud­ing sup­port for free trade (NAFTA has been good for Ari­zona’s com­merce with Mex­ico), but there are lim­its to his West­ern lib­er­tar­i­an­ism. Last year, he led the cam­paign that re­sulted in Ari­zona be­ing the only one of five states vot­ing on the is­sue to de­feat le­gal­iza­tion of recre­ational mar­i­juana: “I’m the son of a cop and the fa­ther of three teenage sons.”

The cur­rent pres­i­dent has point­edly said, “This is called the Repub­li­can Party. It’s not called the Con­ser­va­tive Party.” Ac­tu­ally, it be­came a con­ser­va­tive party partly be­cause of what an Ari­zo­nan did many decades ago. It may be­come such a party again, with an­other Ari­zo­nan’s help. E-mail Ge­orge F. Will at georgewill@ wash­post.com.

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