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.”