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Former Reagan-era Con­gressman Bob McEwan and College Repub­licans Vice Pres­ident Aidan Wheeler. Therese Ens | Courtesy

“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.”