The first time I was scheduled to interview Larry Elder was at a Republican Party Animals event in Hollywood.
When he first arrived, the first thing I saw was camera flashes and then almost the entire crowd glommed toward him. I stood on a chair to see what was happening and there, in the middle of the crowd, was the Eldorado himself—the Sage from South Central, Larry Elder.
I hadn’t been nervous about meeting him until that moment. Of course I had heard him on the radio and knew he was very beloved throughout California but this? It was as if one of the Beatles had shown up. But my nerves dissipated as soon as I started talking to him. I think it’s a combination of his calm, cool demeanor and the kind way he looks at you, as if he’s mentally saying, “Relax, you’re doing fine.”
In that first interview, Elder talked about how he had considered running against Barbara Boxer in 2010 but the GOP went with Carly Fiorina instead. I then asked if he would ever try to run for office again and that night, on-camera, Elder told me he was considering running for Diane Feinstein’s Senate seat. The crowd went nuts, bursting into cheers.
Again, he didn’t go for it…but every chance I get, I urge Larry to run for some type of office in California because this town needs him desperately and people absolutely adore him. This is from my 2011 interview with Larry Elder. The first paragraph was his breakdown of the then-primary presidential primaries; I left this part in the article because his assessments are spot-on.
A-M: Who is your current political favorite and why?
LE: Margaret Thatcher and Thomas Sowell. The problem neither of those is running and even if they were, Margaret Thatcher wouldn’t be eligible because she’s not an American-born citizen. (laughs)
I can tell you who is low on the [presidential 2012] list, that’s a little easier. Huntsman is low; he once supported Obamacare and said the stimulus was too small so that’s a non-starter. I like Ron Paul domestically; I think Ron Paul is naïve about how the world works. A lot of Libertarians believe you just sort of mind your own business and other people respect that and mind their own business, too. That’s not how bad guys work—that’s not how evil people work and I just think it’s kind of a dangerous thing to withdraw from the battle that we have against Islamo-fascism. But on the domestic side I’m happy he’s in the race because he says things that require the other candidates to respond and I think it makes our whole debates healthier and I think the candidate that emerges will be stronger for that.
I like Cain, I like Romney, I like Rick Perry, Santorum, Gingrich. If any of those becomes the nominee I could certainly get behind them. I like Bachmann, I could get behind her. But I think probably if I were to be a betting person I would bet on Romney. Not as a preference but as a prediction. He’s got the money, he’s been around the track, and he’s not the kind of person who’ll make mistakes when he speaks. He’ll be an effective debater against Obama and I think he can beat him. The Mormon thing is a problem—only because there is a bias against that religion and it might cost him 5 maybe 10 points so that’s a problem for him. As was the case with Jack Kennedy, the first Catholic to win, he did suffer because of his Catholicism. It’s a non-issue now and being a Mormon will be a non-issue someday but right now it’s a problem in terms of his electability. Of course Obama would never bring up Romney’s religion [because of his own problems with Rev. Wright] but there are people, regular voters, who think of Mormonism as a cult. I’ve heard evangelists say stuff like that and if enough people feel that way it could cost him the election.
A-M: What (or who) do you believe is currently the biggest threat to America, and why?
LE: The welfare state—the idea that the state owes you. That income equality is something that should be dealt with by taking money away from people that have accumulated it. It’s this “victicrat” mentality that is the biggest threat to our domestic situation. On the foreign side, Iran is the number one exporter of terror in the world and Iran has a hand in destabilizing Iraq and Afghanistan. They’re marching toward getting a nuclear weapon. There was just a plot that unfolded that Iran had its fingerprints all over to assassinate a Saudi ambassador on American soil—that’s an act of war. If they’ll do this now, imagine what they’ll do if and when they get nuclear capability? So it’s something people don’t talk an awful lot about. I remember when Obama and the Democrats ran they said a nuclear-armed Iran was unacceptable but what I’m looking at right now is foreign policy that says a nuclear-armed Iran is acceptable. So I think it’s a very frightening development and to answer your question, that is the number one foreign threat that we face.
A-M: What do you think it will take to get America back to being that ‘shining city on the hill’?
LE: We need to throw out the people that have brought the people down and put in people that will restore the country back to its values. Obama has got to be defeated in 2012; it’s an imperative. And ideally we’re gonna get control of the Senate. I think a super-majority in the Senate isn’t very realistic, but taking control of the Senate and expanding the majority that we have in the House I think is imminently doable. And the country can be turned around. Unfortunately a lot of damage has already been done. To get Obamacare repealed you have to a House Republican; you have to have a super majority in the Senate and you’ve got to have a president to sign the repeal. That’s a lot to ask. So I think the saving grace will be that Obamacare is going to be struck down—at least the mandate—by the Supreme Court sometime in the summer. In which case Obamacare falls of its own weight because you can’t do it without the mandate.
A-M: What advice can you give to Conservatives wanting to make a difference in their communities?
LE: Get involved, get involved, get involved. By that I mean money to your legislatures or prospective legislatures and people who are running; make the phone calls, walk the beat, knock on the doors, subscribe…
A-M: …listen to Larry Elder…
LE: (laughs) Yes, listen to the Larry Elder Show. Read the Conservative think-tanks like American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation; the Hartland Institute and the Cato Institute and listen to Conservative or non-liberal talk radio. Get involved.
A-M: What are your 3 must-read books for Conservatives?
LE: Free to Choose by Milton Freidman; the latest book by Thomas Sowell, a book on basic economics, I strongly urge that. The 10 Things you Can’t Say in America by Larry Elder (laughs). A little self-serving, but ya know (laugh)
A-M: Will you ever run for public office? If so, when; if not, why?
LE: And the answer is maybe and we’ll leave it at that for now. (laughs)
A-M: Okay, for now (laughs). Name one event that changed your life.
LE: I can’t call it an event in the sense that it wasn’t ‘shazam’, the skies open and a beam of light came down and struck me. But I would say that watching ‘Firing Line’ as I did for years, that’s the show that was hosted by William F. Buckley on PBS for 33 years. Little by little I began watching how Buckley would talk to these liberal politicians and I would watch how uncomfortable they became when answering his questions and trying to defend their positions. It made me rethink my assumptions on lots of things. The other event that happened is that I took one course of Economics when I was in college. Within 2 weeks I learned the damage done by minimum wage; the damage done by excessive regulations, excessive taxation and I think that caused me to rethink a lot of assumptions. I remember being in college my first year and thinking that universal health coverage was a good idea until I took Economics 101 and realized that nothing can deliver goods and services more cheaply with greater accessibility than can free markets. And so it changed my perspective.