“Whenever you see something fouled up, rest assured, it’s gonna be government,” said former congressman Bob McEwan in a speech at Hillsdale College.
McEwan, who represented Ohio’s sixth district from 1981 to 1993, and was a member of the Intelligence and Rules committees during the Reagan administration, spoke to a crowd of students on the economic effects of socialism on Wednesday, Oct. 16 at an event hosted by College Republicans.
“There are people going around saying that they are in favor of socialism,” McEwan said. “Now, that’s an interesting statement to make, because socialism has been around for a long time, and has never been successful anyplace, ever, once. So how do you sell something like that?”
McEwan explained that the majority of millennials say they prefer socialism to freedom, but cannot define either. He said that politics comes down to only two principles, integrity and economics.
“Politics is a simple matter of adjusting those two, and because of what you know already, I can make you president of Nicaragua, and you can make it one of the richest countries in the world,” McEwan said. “Or you can take one of the richest countries in Latin America, Venezuela 10 years ago, and make it the second poorest in the Western Hemisphere. Socialism can do that.”
McEwan interspersed examples from history to illustrate his argument, talking with the speed of an auctioneer.
“Thomas Jefferson said freedom is having choices,” McEwan said. “The more money I take away from you, the less freedom you have. Now, that’s common sense, but if we were at the New York Times, that would be a profundity.”
The usage of this money by a third party, who has not personally spent the money and will not personally have to deal with the quality of the product, is the reason government spending always fails, McEwan said.
“Now, those of you who take lessons in public speaking, they’ll tell you that when you’re about to say something profound, you’re supposed to pause for emphasis. So I am now going to pause for emphasis. Because what I’m about to say is not Democrat, Republican, Socialist, Labor, Christian, whatever, it’s the facts, Jack: all government purchases are third party purchases, made with money that’s not theirs for things they are not personally going to consume. That’s why Lincoln said the government should only do the things which a man cannot do better himself,” he said.
McEwan said that these two competing economic and political viewpoints come down to worldview.
“There has to be a starting point, because where you start determines where you go next. There are only two worldviews: either you believe that man created God, or you believe that God created man. End of discussion,” he said. “If you believe that man created God, then you believe that man is his own standard.”
Sophomore and Hillsdale College Republicans Vice President Aidan Wheeler said he felt the event went over well.
“I think it was a good topic, a good choice especially with the upcoming midterms,” Wheeler said.
Junior Clayton Vanderlaan, who attended the event, said that focusing the talk on economics was a fresh approach.
“I thought it was going to be more about his time in office, but I really liked how he centered everything around economics, it was an interesting way to view elections and politics in general,” Vanderlaan said.
He added that he thinks we could use more men like McEwan in office today.
In the question and answer segment following the speech, one student asked how to approach discussions about these issues with people who would largely disagree with McEwan’s arguments. McEwan advised the students to just “keep asking questions.”
“Just ask questions, because what they say doesn’t follow through,” he said. “Truth does not have to fear error. Error is one whale of a burden to sell, that’s why you’ve got to scream and yell up and down the halls of the capitol.”
McEwan added that arguments are not always logical.
“You cannot logic a person out of an emotional decision,” he said. “Sense that early on, and don’t ruin friendships over people who are not logical.”