Michael Wilner '11
If there were any connection between CMCAA and the Tea Party Movement, it may be Craig McPherson ‘06, embarking on his first run for Congress in the Kansas 3rd District.
A Republican since his time studying philosophy, politics and economics at Claremont, McPherson has watched the government's actions over the past year – TARP legislation, the bank bailouts, healthcare reform – with deep concern. The focus, he said, should have remained squarely on the needs and priorities of the suffering American individual: namely, making right the economic downturn. McPherson has come to identify with the Tea Partiers because his platform – limited government, fiscal responsibility, and the maintenance of a strong national defense – has become a collection of widely shared ideals highlighted in dramatic times. Washington, he says, is pushing a brand of reform "even when it's clear the American public is opposed to it."
"That," he said, "is why I think I do identify with the Tea Party Movement."
McPherson believes the biggest obstacle of our country's most daunting financial crisis in recent was our “dried up” capital markets. Giving directly to banks to stimulate the economy was too much an indirect, and ultimately ineffective, government approach.
"Had we actually gone to the individuals," McPherson told me, "and given clear incentives to investors in the 2009 fiscal year, I believe it would've had more returns in terms of keeping the market flowing, and ultimately opening up the competition, even with the banking sector."
Having formed his economic philosophy from the works of Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman and President Reagan, McPherson believes his instincts on economic morality and the democracy of the market predate his CMC years. Growing up in an entrepreneurial household – his parents ran a company that maintained instrument lighting systems at airports – the alum was exposed early on to "the backbone of the American economy": small business owners who had direct experience with the benefits and pitfalls of government regulation.
But at Claremont, McPherson learned that the right economic policy was the most determinant factor in American strength and power. The College's focus on the founding of our nation, he says, gave him a unique understanding and a vital appreciation that contributed to his decision to run for office. "One of the things that really enhances the school more than just the programming itself are just the students that are at Claremont," he said. "Throughout Claremont's history, there've always been a lot of enterprising individuals – people that have that entrepreneurial spirit, and understand they can make things happen."
As for the campaign, McPherson is confident about his prospects. "You don't just have supporters that are sort of hackney politicos, but instead real Americans that haven't necessarily been involved before that are out there knocking doors and making phone calls," he said. "It's really good to see. I'm optimistic going forward."