United States House of Representatives
Honoring Marshall Fritz
November 19, 2008
Madame Speaker, I rise to pay tribute to my friend Marshall Fritz who passed away on Tuesday November 4 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. Marshall was a true champion of freedom whose impact on the cause of liberty will be felt for years to come.
Marshall, with his booming voice and good humor, was the happy warrior of the freedom movement, as well as the movement’s Will Rogers. Marshall never met a fellow fighter for liberty, a single-issue ally, or a potential convert he did not like----and to Marshall anyone who did not already share his love of liberty was a potential convert.
Marshall was a model of an ideological/political entrepreneur. In 1984, Marshall saw that the growth of the freedom movement was handicapped by the lack of an organization to help activists better communicate the freedom philosophy to the general public. While Marshall was not the first person to have this realization, he was the first person to attempt to remedy the situation by founding Advocates for Self-Government, an organization designed to teach activists how to effectively communicate their principles.
In the years since Marshall founded the Advocates for Self-Government, the organization has helped countless libertarians by providing them with the intellectual resources necessary to effectively battle for a free society.
While serving as President of the Advocates, Marshall created the World’s Smallest Political Quiz. The quiz graphs an individual’s political philosophy based on responses to a series of ten questions that measure one’s commitment to economic and personal liberty.
Under Marshall’s leadership, the Advocates undertook an aggressive program of distributing the quiz. There is no doubt that this has been the Advocate’s most successful and popular program. The quiz is responsible for many American’s first contact with libertarian ideas. While traveling around the country, I have often heard people say, "I never knew I was a libertarian until I took the quiz!"
In 1990, Marshall stepped down as President of the Advocates to found the Alliance for the Separation of School and State, an organization focusing on the vital issue of parental control of education. Thanks in large part to Marshall's work, the idea that parents, not the government, should control education is no longer excluded from public debate as a "fringe" notion. One of the features that most impresses me about the Alliance is the way that Marshall brought libertarians, conservatives, and liberals together to work for education freedom.
Anyone who knew Marshall and worked with him would not be surprised that he was able to forge a coalition of people of diverse views. Marshall’s focus was always on building alliances and trying to persuade those with whom he disagreed, rather than on scoring debating points. While he never compromised his principles and never hesitated to criticize even his closet allies if they took what he considered an anti-liberty position, Marshall never personalized disagreements and always treated his opponents with courtesy and respect. I believe the freedom movement would be more successful if more libertarians followed Marshall's example of never turning policy disagreements into personal attacks.
All of us who care about building an effective freedom movement owe a debt of gratitude to Marshall Fritz. I join Marshall’s family in mourning his loss and I urge all of us who work or liberty to honor Marshall’s memory by following the example he set.