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There were plenty of big names speaking at FreedomFest in Las Vegas last July. There were TV talking heads like Steve Forbes and Andrew Napolitano. Famous entrepreneurs like John Mackay came. Tea Party star Rand Paul attracted vast attention.

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But it was an unassuming woman, a brilliant author who rarely leaves her rural home in Canada, who stole the show.

Wendy McElroy has been part of the freedom movement for decades. She is — quite simply — libertarian royalty. Many recognized her and her status, including event organizer Mark Skousen. At the final ball, to which she humbly thought she was not invited, she was swept up, put at the head table, and given rounds of applause.

Ms. McElroy spends her time thinking and writing, leaving the yakking to others. But as she delivered her speech as part of Laissez Faire Club Day at FreedomFest, you could have heard a pin drop. The audience could feel her passion and sincerity. Liberty for Wendy McElroy is not theory, but real life. It is a state of mind and heart.

For McElroy, everything in life begins with the individual. If a person has control of his or her person and property, that’s freedom; if not, it’s slavery. Hers is a clear and sophisticated voice for liberty that will thrill you in her outstanding new book, The Art of Being Free: Politics Versus the Everyman and Woman.

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This is not a book about stirring up the Tea Party or political strategy. As the title denotes, politics is the enemy of the people. Real liberty lovers don’t play political games. The games will imprison you.

“I am not into electoral politics as a way to change society, so I don’t think in terms of competing with Republicans or Democrats,” McElroy told an interviewer. “I believe that lasting change comes from transforming the hearts and minds of people — freedom comes one person at a time — and the pulling of a lever every four years doesn’t have much to do with that process. I believe in grass-roots activism to improve the daily realities of people, not in electing politicians to positions of power. A politician has never improved my life, has never made me freer.”

After reading Ayn Rand’s We the Living at age 15, a year later, McElroy escaped to the relative safety of the streets and was immediately confronted with a harsh Canadian winter. She was able to secure a low-wage job and began building a life for herself.

This book is not the musings of a sheltered, out-of-touch academic. McElory’s clear and sparkling prose pushes the reader along at a furious pace — from theory to everyday issues to a discussion of the people who embody freedom and finally to a discussion about moving from an unfree world to a freer one — always with an eye for the rights of the individual.

While government seeks to protect children from exploitation with child labor laws, McElroy explains that these laws relegate some children to lives of homelessness and crime.

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The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by

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