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David Boaz, The Consummate Libertarian

Roger Pilon

Portrait of David Boaz

In writing, speaking, or through the media, no one communicated the principles and spirit of the classical liberal, libertarian vision more clearly or compellingly than David Boaz. Those principles of individual liberty and human flourishing secured through constitutionally limited government were alive in David and in all he did.

Two brief personal stories will bookend my tribute. Early in 1988 I met David for lunch with the idea of proposing a Center for Constitutional Studies at Cato. He resonated with every point, took the proposal to Ed Crane, and the rest is history. David was the catalyst. And he and Tom Palmer were instrumental in bringing forth Cato’s best‐​selling publication, our pocket Declaration and Constitution, which has inspired countless millions.

Ed used to say that before there was Spellcheck, there was Boaz. David was the consummate editor. Nothing got past him, which brings me to my second story. Two weeks ago, as I learned that David lay abed in Sibley Hospital, confident that he had his laptop with him, I emailed him to inquire whether I might visit him. He responded that he was about to leave for home. Aaron Ross Powell, who was with him, wrote back to say that David could not type but was using a speech‐​to‐​text program to respond to emails. But before sending, he was running his responses by Aaron to ensure there were no punctuation errors created by the program. That was David. To the end, he insisted on quality in everything he did. There will never be another like him. Rest in Peace my good friend and inspiration.

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