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Ray Bradbury and the Strange World of California Politics

POLITICS AND REMEMBERANCE - I personally know of one instance when the great science fiction/fantasy writer, Ray Bradbury, took an interest in California politics. Bradbury, who passed away Tuesday at age 91, was the star attraction at a fundraiser for economist Arthur Laffer’s U.S. Senate campaign in late 1985. Bradbury, of course, expressed a deep interest in basic issues of human affairs. There is no better example than perhaps his best-known work, Fahrenheit 451, and it treatise on censorship, free speech and technology. A Wall Street Journal essay on the occasion of his death demonstrated the writer opposed political correctness.

But, on the occasion to which I refer, Bradbury ventured into the active political world – although his participation may have not been political at all.

Let me explain.

By the mid-1980s Arthur Laffer had gained fame as a chief architect of supply-side economics and was the creator of the Laffer Curve, which postulated that there is an optimum point on a tax rate curve at which government can collect the most revenue. If the tax rate is too low or too high revenue collection is diminished.

Laffer had served as an economic advisor to President Ronald Reagan and decided that he would make a bid for the California senate seat held by Democrat Alan Cranston.

Laffer was not alone in this bid. Seven Republicans tried for the office.  Congressman Ed Zschau won the primary race and went on to lose to Cranston by less than 1.5% in the 1986 general election.

Bradbury appeared at the Laffer fundraiser and explained what drew him to Laffer’s side. He liked new things — new ways of thinking, new approaches to old problems, he said at the event, and he felt Laffer’s theories qualified.

Bradbury looked at life through the same lens in which he imagined the strange worlds of his books.

Bradbury’s quest for the new and different and creative brought him to encourage Laffer and his economic approach.

Ray Bradbury brought all his readers into strange and vivid worlds. I suppose to many, the world of politics is a bizarre world and someplace an inquisitive Ray Bradbury would delight in visiting.

I still have the book he inscribed for me that evening in late December. With a touch of mirth, he wrote: For Joel at Noel!

RIP, Ray Bradbury.

(Joel Fox, author of the mystery Lincoln’s Hand, is editor of Fox & Hounds Daily and president of the Small Business Action Committee. This piece appeared originally at

Tags: Joel Fox, Ray Bradbury, politics, California, Arthur Laffer, US Senate

Vol 10 Issue 46
Pub: June 8, 2012