Throughout my career, Iíve been assured by marketing experts and PR consultants that negatives motivate people more than positives.
Ayn Rand taught me a different lesson: good people are motivated primarily by positive values:
"You seek escape from pain. We seek the achievement of happiness. You exist for the sake of avoiding punishment. We exist for the sake of earning rewards. Threats will not make us function; fear is not our incentive. It is not death that we wish to avoid, but life that we wish to live." (John Galt in Atlas Shrugged)
As difficult as the last year has been, the (limited) freedom we have today has led to the richest, healthiest, most opportunity-rich world humanity has ever enjoyed. And thatís our opportunity.
The enemies of freedom mobilize support by painting a nightmare world headed for destruction - unless we surrender more of our wealth and freedom.
Our success will come from pointing to the achievements of capitalism (or what remains of it) and demanding more freedom to reach even greater achievements. For example, no achievement in 2020 was more notable than the fact that less than a year after the Covid-19 pandemic began, two companies developed promising vaccines. And no fact about that achievement is more notable than that it was made possible, not by government, but by free human minds.
We must continue to oppose the negative trends that are taking away our freedom and threatening our future. But our core message has to be that life has never been better - and, with more freedom and reverence for reason, we can add many more years to our lives and much more joy to our days.
When we think of the future, we can't just stare myopically at the horrors in Washington. We should think of what's in store for us if freedom can be increased and the entrepreneurs in our midst further liberated.
We should think of the driverless cars, supersonic jets, and space travel that will revolutionize transportation and liberate our time in a way we havenít seen since the dawn of the automobile age.
We should think of the global spread of 5G and 6G cellular technology that will allow us to be constantly connected to knowledge, art, entertainment, colleagues, and loved ones.
We should think of the years added to our livesóyears of health and vigoródue to the amazing innovations in biotech and a greater understanding of the human genome.
We should think of the romantic art that will one day see a real renaissance, and that will enrich our spirits. And we should think of and be advocates foróthe freedom weíll need to make these breakthroughs a reality.
We are fighting for a glorious futureónot a return to some idyllic past. And the road to the future will be built not by politicians but by those who fight for a better culture. A culture that values reason, individualism, and capitalism. A culture that values progress, ingenuity, entrepreneurship, and wealth creation. A culture that admires producers of every type-from plumbers to scientists to CEOs to (real) artists.
To focus exclusively on politics is to step into a tribal abyss where too many minds are shut and where to criticize one side is to immediately get lumped in with the other. We, who are not part of any tribe, need to redefine the debate on our terms by outlining an aspirational agenda: an agenda built on profound and deep philosophic ideals and offering a vision of the future that goes beyond policy to an inspiring picture of human achievement and human flourishing. That is the real battle - and it's the battle the Ayn Rand Institute is leading the way in fighting.
With your continued support, we will win.
Chairman of the Board Ayn Rand Institute