Mark Steyn, a nationally-recognized journalist and prominent conservative figure, brought a standing-room-only audience to its feet multiple times during his speech concerning America’s descent into big government Tuesday night at the George Roche Sports Complex.
“People can change…and big government can force people to change quicker than you think,” Steyn said.
He argued that the American legacy of small government does not render the nation invulnerable to the spread of European-style statist rule.
“We have to get serious about the nature and view of government that many, and quite possibly a majority, of American’s now hold,” he said.
He spoke to an audience consisting of CAA attendees and students. They frequently showed their approval of his message, both through laughter and applause. Referencing Beyonce, Rutherford B. Hayes, and pole dancers, Steyn weaved a lurid intermixture of humor and political analysis.
Steyn referenced statistics on government spending as a percentage of GDP, arguing that they show America has caught up, if not exceeded, many European countries in terms of government size. He went on to assert that despite America’s unprecedented spending, we have little to show for it.
“[Obama] is the only man in history to spend $6 trillion he does not have,” Steyn said. “Not only that, but he managed to spend $6 trillion and leave no trace. Do you know how impressive that is?”
Steyn said that systems of big-government that may be at least partially functional in a smaller nation do not scale well to America’s needs. He said that instead of carrying out the purported intention of serving the needs of the people, a large system of government becomes obsessed with perpetuating itself:
“Government education funding is about government, not education,” he said. “Government health care is about government, not health. Government gun control is about government, not guns.”
Though Steyn acknowledged the severity of the situation, he urged his audience not merely to wait for something to change. Rather, he said, “tend to your state … and demonstrate the virtues of responsible government at the city level.”
He asked the crowd to prove him wrong and show that America can indeed recover from its descent towards a statist style of government. Despite this optimistic call for action, in the post-Q&A session he again reminded the crowd of the scope of the challenge they face.
“We have looted the future to bribe the present,” Steyn said, “and at the bottom of the cliff the future is waiting for what we owe it.”