Nerds wear thick glasses and get good grades. They dream of being cool. Bullies torment them.
Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper often talks about growing up with "Coke-bottle-thick eyeglasses," walking around with a funny name and a lanky frame. He recalls bullies calling him a "nerd."
As late as early March, he tried talking like a cool-hipster politician, which did not serve him well.
Having just announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for president, Hickenlooper pretended he was too woke for capitalism. He sounded like U.S. Sens. Cory Booker, Bernie Sanders, U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and a handful of other slick left-wing media sensations who make Obama seem like Reagan.
On the set of MSNBC, host Joe Scarborough told Hickenlooper he serves as an "advertisement for American capitalism." Hickenlooper rejected the compliment, as if success is not cool.
Bumbling to avoid the "capitalist label," Hickenlooper came off like an honors student smokin' in the boys' room to fit in with greasers.
We pounced, calling him a "red-blooded American capitalist" who should embrace his true self. He belonged with the nerds. Others piled on.
Hickenlooper wound up explaining himself on the set of "Late Night With Seth Meyers."
The word "capitalism," Hickenlooper conceded, felt like someone calling him a "nerd" in high school.
A variety of Hickenlooper's friends probably intervened after the MSNBC fiasco, telling him to stick with what he knows. The world needs more Hickenloopers; fewer left-wing loons advocating socialism — a bully style ideology of authoritarian economic control.
"Capitalism is the only economic system that can support a strong middle class, a growing economy, and innovative entrepreneurs leading global technological advancements," Hickenlooper wrote in a May 5 guest column for The Wall Street Journal.
Before pursuing politics, the former governor and Denver mayor created hundreds of jobs and a personal fortune by pioneering the craft-brew industry. He played a key role in the unapologetically capitalist renaissance of Lower Downtown Denver.
His defense of oil and gas helped Colorado build the country's most robust economy.
"We urge our friend to boldly defend and promote capitalism as an economic system proven to liberate the masses with food, shelter, clothing and innovations that improve the lives of the rich, the middle class and the poor," we wrote in March.
In his Journal article, we saw signs of the old Hick — the "nerd" who stated his case as a "petulant loudmouth, perpetually teased by my classmates," as he describes himself in an article for the Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity. That's the Hickenlooper we respect.
"Dramatic income inequality has driven voters to support influential leaders in both political parties who advocate changes to our economic system that would ultimately destroy capitalism," he wrote.
Hickenlooper brought the "income inequality" complaint to his last Gazette editorial board meeting before leaving office. We balked. He failed to convince anyone how a rich person causes problems for a poor person. After all, he did not get rich by stealing hops and yeast from poor people. Rather, he combined the ingredients into products that created jobs for those who needed them. The jobs expanded the tax base and funded charitable donations.
By carefully reading and re-reading the Journal article, it seems clear Hickenlooper conflates "income inequality" with monopolization. He fears too few corporations control the means of production.
That is a fair concern. Just as government must defend public safety, it must uphold fair rules to ensure a competitive, profit-driven market. It must disrupt playground protection rackets, and too many free-market conservatives deemphasize this government responsibility.
Without government serving as an objective referee, our economy cannot continue to grow. No one will invest effort and capital into ideas without the ability to profit from the resulting services and goods. Sans profits, nothing funds innovation and production.
Regulations must protect competition, mostly for the sake of consumers. We need entrepreneurs who constantly invent for the sake of better products at lower prices. Hickenlooper wisely wants government to protect them from unfair, predatory trade practices.
He wants health care for all, but not a single payer for all.
"I reject the idea we can improve health care by turning it entirely over to the government," Hickenlooper wrote.
He concludes: "I am a small-business man — and, yes, a capitalist. But today American capitalism is broken. We have to fix it before it's too late."
As Hickenlooper stood up to socialist insolents this weekend, Berkshire Hathaway founder Warren Buffet — who wears thick glasses — inadvertently had Hick's back.
"I'm a card-carrying capitalist," said Buffet, who endorsed 2016 Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, at Berkshire Hathaway's annual meeting. "I believe we wouldn't be sitting here except for the market system."
Attention cool-hipster socialists: A real-life "Revenge of the Nerds" has your number.
Hickenlooper falls far short of sounding like a gung-ho champion of unrestrained capitalism. He wants more taxes on capital gains, a bad idea that would discourage investments that create jobs and other manifestations of economic growth. He favors the death tax, and "free" community college. Stuff like that, but far from a socialist manifesto.
In Hickenlooper, the primary race has a Democrat of lore — a smart, moderate and compassionate capitalist who understands the origins and benefits of economic growth.
Capitalism. It is the coolest system of all. Just ask the "nerds."
REPRINTED FROM THE COLORADO SPRINGS GAZETTE