Alex P. Keaton Versus Michael J. Fox

As I watch ads from Michael J. Fox supporting stem cell research, I can’t help but think what Fox’s famous alter ego Alex P. Keaton would have thought on the subject. Now, I grew up loving Family Ties and paid attention to nearly every word that came out of Alex Keaton’s mouth. Thanks to Family Ties, I can convincingly tell you how Thomas Jefferson painted himself into a corner on the Louisiana Purchase. Thanks to Family Ties, I went out and read every word that Soren Kierkegaard ever wrote. I paid attention to Family Ties and it greatly shaped me as a human being.

I have spent an unusually long period of my life thinking about what type of Republican Alex Keaton was. This is on some level an important and defining question for me. First of all, I can rule out the Religious Right or Moral Majority. Keaton had several episodes where he even doubted the existence of God. Keaton used drugs to get an edge. Keaton’s conservatism ultimately was based on fiscal principles. This is an important distinction as to where Keaton would currently fall on Fox’s pet issue of stem cell research.

It occurred to me some years ago what exactly the issue came down to. When I saw that, then the entire lens of Alex Keaton as well as the issue of stem cell research came crystal clear to me. Would Alex P. Keaton support government funding of stem cell research? No, Alex P. Keaton would not. The question for Alex P. Keaton would stop at the phrase government funding. It did not matter how the question ended. Would Alex P. Keaton support government funding for the finding and maintaining of the endangered species of unicorns? No. End the sentence in stem cells research. No. Alex P. Keaton was against using tax dollars for anything other than the minimal needed to support the working of government. And even then, it would have been considered to be a necessary evil.

As a fiscal conservative, Keaton took the Reaganite tone of cutting government spending as well as the government having a card of your money ready to spend at any point and time. Keaton, during the 1980s, would have also been against the Strategic Defense Initiative as well as the fact that Reagan actually did very little to decrease welfare rolls. Keaton through the years was against Nixon’s establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency. Keaton was also against the Equal Rights Amendment. He once went to jail for the ERA to get a date, but ultimately he could not bring himself to go with the illusion that he would support any type of Government expansion.

As such, Keaton would have also been firmly against the Health Care Act in 2009. This is a man that once had to be explained to by his uncle (who was played masterfully by Tom Hanks) than ending a factory in a small town actually hurt the bottom line of other businesses because it acted as kind of a cornerstone to the environment. Keaton was a strict devotee of the Milton Friedman school of economics. More than likely, Keaton would read Friedman’s discussion on how a pencil is made to his children as a bedtime story. Keaton’s politics may lead to some horrible results (especially short term) but his overall theory is at the very least consistent.

As such, I can see that Keaton would have been a supporter of the Hyde Amendment as being sacrosanct however would have been fairly ambivalent on whether or not the practice of abortion should take place. In theory, abortion (if not funded by tax dollars) would still curb population growth allowing for greater economic freedom to those remaining. Keaton was certainly against the practice of social security under any of its forms, so in an ideal economic model, the country would not need more workers in order to finance the care of the elderly. As a matter of fact, Keaton was even against government funding of the elderly. Keaton once famously commented about his aging parents that he agonized over the day when he would have to start writing checks for them and how much those checks would be. Keaton saw the need for care for the elderly as well as the need for someone other than the elderly to take fiscal responsibility for it.

So bottom line. Michael J. Fox supports government funding for stem cell research. Alex P. Keaton absolutely would not support government funding for stem cell research. As long as his money was not being spent on it, then I cannot see that Alex P. Keaton would have had an actual problem with the practice.


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