It was December 2012 after Christmas and I was writing a 2,400-word article about Republican Party messaging to minority voters: In my free time I was reading a book by Dr. Thomas Sowell: Basic Economics. Both the article and the book were a heavy lift. By that time I had already made it a habit to tweet quotes by Thomas Sowell and the result was always the same, lots of engagement, because his words often rang true to people of a conservative political bent.
The article was published in the February issue of Townhall Magazine. A couple of days after publication, the following quote appeared in Sowell’s “Random Thoughts” column on Jewish World Review: “The front page of the February issue of Townhall magazine says: ‘It’s messaging — not principles — that’s hurting the GOP with Minority Voters.’ Neglecting to make their message clear hurts Republicans with all voters, but especially minority voters.” What a sight to behold. Sowell actually read my article. A few friends, who caught the reference, emailed their congratulations.
Later I went on to read more columns and a number of his books. The ideas and concepts articulated by Sowell influenced and refined my thoughts on so many issues: welfare policy, racism, the Democratic Party platform, and socialism to name a few. Topics that appeared unexplainable became easily discernible when unpacked by The Good Economist, my nickname for Sowell.
Take the incessant use of the term racism: “The word ‘racism’ is like ketchup. It can be put on practically anything — and demanding evidence makes you a ‘racist.’” The term has already lost its bite, most people simply shrug off the claim or require inordinate amounts of evidence because as Sowell said, anything and everything has been deemed racist meaning that nothing is. Sowell opened my eyes to the realities of being a member of an affluent society that has ceased to realize one of its chief responsibilities: to impart reality to succeeding generations about abundance, scarcity, economy and responsibility.
Sowell just announced his retirement from writing columns at the age of 86, saying that he plans to pursue his new hobby of photography full time. I’m going to miss his biting wit and laser sharp focus on telling the unvarnished truth while taking exactly zero notice of his detractors and critics. Such a fine example of constant fine work has influenced so many on the conservatives to follow in his footsteps writing and speaking the truth.
A good barometer of a quote’s veracity is that it stands the test of time. So many of Sowell’s quotes are timeless and speak to our need for deeper understanding. “Much of the social history of the Western world, over the past three decades, has been a history of replacing what worked with what sounded good.”
I believe that historians will look back upon the first part of the 21st century as a time when the most advanced civilization in history promoted the causes of victimhood, blaming others for poor personal choices and experienced a loss of the social contract that has thus far served to mold a nation of very different individuals into a nation.
When we cease to agree that we are a nation of laws and that we must obey the law or face consequences, that social contract is damaged, such as when we fail to enforce our immigration laws. Sowell had a quote on that too: “Immigration laws are the only laws that are discussed in terms of how to help people who break them.” How true.
Shortly after reading of his retirement, I read reactions online. Critics called him “Uncle Tom,” “Coon,” and other insults. Sadly that is par for the course for blacks in the GOP. At the age of 86, it’s understandable that Sowell would seek to relax and pursue a life away from political commentary. Even so, seekers and deep thinkers now face a void. With more than 20 years of columns to peruse, not to mention the library of books he has authored, the full measure of his retirement will not hit us immediately. Godspeed Thomas Sowell.
Read more about what happened to this column HERE.