What pops into the mind of libertarian humorist P.J. O’Rourke when he hears talk of a light-weight vehicle with a small carbon footprint, using alternative energy and renewable resources to operate in a sustainable way?
“When I was a kid, we called it a Schwinn!”
Such was the tone of “An Evening With P.J. O’Rourke” on June 17, 2009. Sponsored by AFF, the Illinois Policy Institute, the Heartland Institute and the Sam Adams Alliance, the event drew nearly 200 local conservatives and libertarians to downtown Chicago to hear O’Rourke opine on the issues of the day while introducing his latest book ‘Driving Like Crazy.’
As befit a month during which the U.S. government took over General Motors and Chrysler changed hands to foreign ownership, O’Rourke spent most of his time talking about the American automobile industry and the politicians’ quest to remake it in their own image.
“Pity the poor American car when Congress and the White House get through with it,” said O’Rourke. “It’s been a great run.”
O’Rourke isn’t just a student of history and observer of current events. Cars also played an important role in his family’s American experience. His grandfather started a Buick dealership in the 1940s, and the business did so well that it financed O’Rourke’s shoes, literacy and college education.
“I take the demise of the American car personally.”
The car didn’t only improve O’Rourke’s lot, but also that of countless others worldwide. It effectively gave everyone access to a horse that wouldn’t kick, throw you off or get tired. It could be said the automobile advanced the ideal of liberty more than any other single invention in this history of mankind.
“Cars fulfill the ideal of America’s Founding Fathers,” said O’Rourke. “Of all the truths that we hold self-evident; of all the unalienable rights with which we are endowed, what is most important to the American Dream? It’s freedom to leave! ‘King George, can I have the keys?’”
Following his speech, O’Rourke answered questions from the audience–Question: “What’s the best American car today?” Answer: “A big car.”–and signed books for attendees.
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