If you are not familiar with the show Parks & Recreation on NBC, I highly recommend it. One of the heroes of the sitcom is a character named Ron Swanson, played by Nick Offerman. Ron Swanson is a staunch libertarian, and his “meta joke” for the show is that he’s the head of the Parks Department in the town of Pawnee, Indiana — and his goal in life is to shut down that department (and most others) because they are useless wastes of time and the hard-earned money of the people.
In last night’s episode, a repeat, Ron explained to a 4th grader who John Locke was. And by helping himself to 40 percent of the girl’s lunch, how taxes work. Her assignment was to write an essay on “Why does government matter?” After a few hours with Ron, she handed in a two-word essay to her teacher: “It doesn’t.”
It made me smile, and of course Ron Swanson was beaming from ear to ear. He is the best sitcom character on TV – a libertarian who is not mocked, but is the sensible one on NBC’s “Parks & Recreation.” This on network TV! I have a feeling the Hollywood writers who created this character did not intend him to be a hero, but it’s a great mistake.
In that episode, Ron looks at the camera and tells the documentarian/audience about his excitement in having a young skull of mush to shape into a freedom-loving libertarian — countering the statist bilge she’s hearing in the public school:
It’s never too early to learn that the government is a greedy piglet that suckles on a taxpayer’s teet until they have sore, chapped nipples. I’m gonna need a different metaphor to give this nine year old.
Anyway, another classic scene on the show has Ron Swanson coaching a basketball team of 10 year olds. Riffing on legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden’s Pyramid of Success, Ron unveiled to the kids his “Pyramid of Greatness.” You can see it below. It’s in keeping with the libertarian ethos of the character, and hilarious.
(Click on the image below to see it larger. I’ve pasted a video clip of the scene below the image.)