It’s pretty hard to be a Republican living in California. It’s a politically lonely life. I moved from Texas to California last September because I’m getting very long in the tooth and my daughter wanted me close by. In this new environment I have been bludgeoned by the reality that the political zeitgeist is governed by three things: redistribution of income, identity politics (tell me who you are and I will tell you how we will treat you) and narrow diversity (only from the skin out, not the skin in). Diversity is a positive, but it should be both external in physical characteristics and internal in intellectual diversity.

I’m not sure I’m even going to register to vote, and here’s why: Political reality in California gives me nearly no options. Virtually all races at the city, county, state and even at congressional levels give me the choice between only a conventional Democrat or a quasi-socialist. Republicans often don’t even appear on the ballot. I am not going to make an endorsement of the lesser of two political evils. Politics for me is cerebral: I have studied political thought and know why I am at the center-right of the political spectrum. My political thought is not conformist or tribal: I am what I am because I have thought about it.

At bottom, political origins come down essentially to whether we place primacy on the individual or on the collective. Placing it on the individual rather than the collective might initially seem selfish and undemocratic. But let’s look at history. John Stuart Mill rightly observed, “All progress comes from individuals, generally at first from one individual.” History teems with examples. Just to name an obvious one, think of Henry Ford. Similarly, Ralph Waldo Emerson observed that “an institution is the lengthened shadow of one man.” And Charles Kettering put it in a humorous way: an aide ran into his office, exclaiming, “Mr. Kettering, Charles Lindbergh just flew across the ocean—all by himself!” To which Kettering responded, “Let me know when he does it by committee.”

The paradox is that placing priority on the individual serves the collective. Think of the hundreds of thousands of small businesses throughout the United States. They arise out of individual talents and incentives—even out of a selfish desire to make money. But they serve the collective by hiring millions of employees

Politicians tend to believe that they are not doing their job if they don’t initiate and pass more laws. C. S. Lewis put the matter brilliantly of what’s wrong with this prejudice, in a precious statement that we should think about these days:

“On the modern theory of sovereignty . . . total freedom to make what laws it pleases, superiority to law because it is the source of law, is the characteristic of every state; of democratic states no less than of monarchical. That doctrine has proved so popular that it now seems to many a mere tautology. We conceive with difficulty that it was ever new because we imagine with difficulty how political life can ever have gone on without it. We take it for granted that the highest power in the State, whether that is a despot or a democratically elected assembly, will be wholly free to legislate and incessantly engage in legislation." [C.S. Lewis, History of Sixteenth-Century English Literature, Excluding Drama. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1957, pp. 46-47.

I have sometimes thought, somewhat in jest, that I will vote for the candidate who says, “‘If elected, I promise not to introduce a single legislative bill.’”

I endorse capitalism without apology. It’s not perfect. Someone once said, “The problem with socialists is socialism; the problem with capitalism is capitalists.” Still, capitalism is the most effective system in advancing human welfare by means of enabling the talents of individuals to create prosperity.

So I live in the monolithic state of California, happy in the knowledge that 49 other states are not governed by this state.