Here’s what TV sitcom star Drew Carey doesn’t like: censorship, anti-smoking laws, drug laws, immigration laws, “stupid big government in general” — and award shows. (They’re “publicity stunts” for needy actors, he explains.)
Here’s what Drew Carey does like: freedom, competition, free minds, free markets, and — he won’t deny — beer, dirty jokes, and gambling.
Those likes and dislikes tell you pretty much everything you need to know about Carey. He’s not afraid to speak his mind. He’s proud of his blue-collar sensibilities. And he’s a libertarian.
Carey left no doubts about his political philosophy in a November 1997 interview with Reason magazine. He had a quick answer when asked, “What’s your basic attitude toward government?” Carey said: “The less the better. As far as your personal goals are and what you actually want to do with your life, it should never have to do with the government. You should never depend on the government for your retirement, your financial security, for anything. If you do, you’re screwed.”
Why Drew’s a Libertarian
Carey’s libertarian perspective extended to a wide range of issues. Some examples from the Reason interview:
• On censorship: “What right does [a politician] have to tell me what I can and cannot watch? Change the channel if you don’t like what’s on TV!”
• On the free market: “Some people don’t like competition because it makes them work harder, better. I’m competitive at everything. It’s a natural driving force, a way of testing yourself, of measuring how you’re doing. How can people not know that competition makes everything better?”
• On drug laws: “Liquor prohibition led to the rise of organized crime in America, and drug prohibition has led to the rise of the gang problems we have now.”
• On government power: “P.J. O’Rourke once said the government has passed enough laws — it should just stop. It oversteps its bounds so often. Giving it a little bit of power is like getting a little bit pregnant…”
• On freedom versus security: “I think a lot of people are afraid of freedom. They want their lives to be controlled, to be put into a box… People like that cradle-to-grave concept because it says you don’t have to think too much, you don’t have to worry too much, because someone else is looking out for you. But that also means you can’t do as much as you want. Why should someone else put a limit on how much fun I can have; how much I can accomplish?”
From Crew-Cut Clevelander to Comedic Royalty
Carey’s career is a tribute to exactly how much — in the Washington Post’s classic description — “a tubby dork in a crew cut and thick-rimmed glasses” can accomplish.
After a stint in the U.S. Marine Reserves (where he adopted his trademark crew cut), the Cleveland native spent several years doing stand-up comedy. He was catapulted to household-name status in 1995, thanks to his top-rated ABC sitcom, The Drew Carey Show. The program, which ran for nine years, starred Carey as a put-upon office worker in Cleveland, and combined standard blue-collar sitcom gags with innovative song-and-dance sequences. (And an occasional libertarian plug: On a January 15, 1997 show, Carey’s character wore a Reason tee-shirt.) The Drew Carey Show won the comedian two People’s Choice Awards.
In 1997, Carey published the best-selling book, Dirty Jokes and Beer: Stories of the Unrefined, which combined autobiography, short stories, an inside look at his TV show, and bawdy jokes.
Carey also hosted the comedy improvisational shows Whose Line Is it Anyway? (ABC, 1998-2004) and Drew Carey’s Green Screen Show (The WB, 2004). In 2007, he took over as host of the popular syndicated game show, The Price Is Right.
Decades of Libertarian Activism
Despite all the success, Carey’s libertarian views haven’t changed. In 1998, he engaged in an act of civil disobedience when he lit up a cigarette in a bar in California to protest the state’s new anti-smoking law. “I don’t think there should be a total ban,” he told CNN. “It should be up to each bar owner and patron to decide if they want to smoke or not.”
And in 2004, Carey penned an introduction to a Reason retrospective book, Choice: The Best of Reason. “We need a magazine like yours to help fight the stupid drug laws, the stupid immigration laws, and stupid big government in general,” he wrote. “‘Free Minds and Free Markets!’ Right on, my man. Freedom!”
“I never thought I was a libertarian until I picked up Reason magazine and realized I agree with everything they had printed..” — Drew Carey in Time (August 9, 2007)