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Conservative’s new novel ponders scary world in which progressive radical policies are law

Fiction book, published in March, also tells the tale of a liberal journalist who experiences a wake-up call

In his novel “The Awakening of Jennifer Van Arsdale,” author George Leef describes an America overtaken by radical progressivism and what happens to a prominent leftist journalist who departs from the mainstream media narrative.

The main character, Van Arsdale, is a progressive journalist from Washington D.C. who has devoted her life to promoting leftist ideologies, from big government policies of reparations for slavery to censorship of all “hate speech.”

Unwavering in her beliefs, everything changes for Van Arsdale when she is saved from an attack by an African American veteran with an illegal gun—which is only illegal thanks to the former Democratic president’s gun buy-back policy. This ultimately opens her eyes to the damaging effects of progressive policies that strip citizens of their freedoms.

Leef, the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal’s director of editorial content, said in an interview with The College Fix that while his novel is obviously fiction, it has some real-life implications. (The following Q&A has been edited for length and clarity.)

What was your goal in writing this novel?

I decided to write the book in the summer of 2020 when the political season was hitting full stride. As a longtime advocate of a free, truly liberal society with government limited to functions essential for the protection of individual rights, I was very anxious about the prospect of an electoral sweep by the Democrats – a party that has become extremely hostile to freedom. As Biden and other top Democrats talked about their plans for transforming America, I thought, “What if they got their way? What if the country has to endure eight years of their rule? What would be left of liberty if they had the complete power they crave?”

After thinking about the horrors of that, the idea for a novel started taking shape. I tried to imagine a scenario in which the tables might be turned on the “progressives” after they thought they had cemented their control in place. That’s when I came up with my main characters and started to fill out the plot of the book.

My reason for writing the book was to let Americans know how close we are to the point of no return – the point at which the leftist coalition that is intent on radically changing the country can’t be defeated.

Who is the target audience for this book?

The target audience is everyone who cares about prosperity, innovation and harmony. What I intended to show was that when a country gives up freedom and succumbs to ever-growing governmental control, the result will inevitably be declining prosperity, the stifling of innovation, and increasing discord as people look more and more to government to get what they want, which always comes at the expense of others. That audience includes conservatives and libertarians, but also people who may regard themselves as “liberal” but aren’t comfortable with all of the ideas and policies of the hard-core statists who now control the Democratic Party.

Do you think more left-leaning individuals would come to realize they agreed with conservative views if they listened to what they had to say?

Yes! Many left-leaning people – such as my main character, Jennifer – would learn from people on the right if only they would listen and think. The problem is that they have usually been schooled to believe that those who disagree with their views must be ignorant or have bad motives. That illustrates one of the big failings of our educational system.

Many of the policies mentioned in the book that former President Pat Farnsworth enacted are hyperbolic, but do you think our country could get to those extremes sometime in the near future?

In the book, I describe an America after eight years of complete domination by the left and almost all of the “transformational” changes – packing the Supreme Court, cracking down on anything they call “hate speech,” free college, government-run healthcare for all, much higher minimum wage laws, guaranteed government jobs, universal basic income programs, reparations for slavery, gun buy-backs and so on – have all been advocated by leftist politicians and intellectuals. If they had unfettered power, I do not doubt that they would do everything I describe, including changing the national anthem.

Do you think if more prominent liberals-turned-conservatives spoke out about how they “woke up,” a lot of others would follow suit?

It certainly would help if more Americans who have changed their political views would attempt to explain their reasons. Some of them have, though, and find that they are demonized by their former friends rather than listened to. In his early years, for example, Thomas Sowell was a Marxist. Few people on the left are interested in hearing about his intellectual odyssey; they just ignore him or call him names.

If you had one message for the younger generation growing up during these polarizing times, what would you say?

My message for younger readers is to think how their lives will be impacted for the worse if the U.S. continues the long-run trend of expanding government control and shrinking the sphere of freedom. History is perfectly clear on this. In countries where freedom contracts, the result is always a gradual (or sometimes swift) loss of prosperity and innovation. Yes, the times are very polarized and speaking up for freedom, limited government, and individual rights is apt to make you unpopular with many people, but if we don’t begin turning things around so that we regain lost liberty, the nation’s future is bleak.

Do you believe there is hope for the future?

I believe there is hope. That’s because the beliefs that sustain the leftist worldview are so much at odds with reality. It becomes more and more evident that leftist policies are ruining education, increasing inflation, killing businesses, destroying incentives to work, and so on. And the government’s appalling policies to deal with Covid have opened many people’s eyes to the fact that government officials are prone to mistakes, tyranny and vindictiveness. Covid has taught many people that they should not trust in government. I think that the conditions are right for a counterattack that will lead to a revival of the spirit of liberty.

MORE: New book explains how to unshackle the public school system from tyranny

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About the Author
Allie Simon -- University of California San Diego