Christendom’s politics practica speaker series returned to campus this past Monday with John Taylor, the president of the Virginia Institute for Public Policy, speaking to students about the dangers of progressivism in the current political landscape. Holding a B.A. from Wofford College, an M.B.A. from Georgia State University and a J.D. from the Woodrow Wilson College of Law, Taylor has been named one of the most influential political players in Virginia by Campaigns & Elections.
Taylor’s focus was on progressivism, and how it is arguably the greatest problem harming America today. He described the problem in terms of the GDP. According to Taylor, the country needs a fiscal adjustment equivalent to 14% of the GDP, which is equivalent to $202 trillion dollars. The government, however, alters its data, and the actual figure is actually 15 times what they have reported to the public. “The government has been lying to you,” Taylor said. “When people think of threats to the country, they often worry about the terrorist hiding in the cave. The far more serious threat to our country is our own fiscal irresponsibility.”
This is an unfortunate circumstance for the next generation. The majority of their life will be spent “picking up the tab,” and there are few places they can run to where they will be able to escape a difficult financial situation, he said.
Taylor went on to explain that Americans need to know the sides of the battle in order to win it. For this reason, he outlined the differences between classical liberalism and progressivism: “The main conflict in this battle is not republican versus democrat or even conservative versus liberal. It is a battle fought between those who want to preserve the original government of our founders, and those who want to progress beyond it.”
Taylor then drew several points of comparison between the two groups.
On the origin of rights, the Founding Fathers believed that they ultimately came from a Creator. Wilson, and the progressives, however, believe that to understand “the real declaration,” one must ignore its preface, which outlines the structure of American government, and how rights come from the consent of the governed. Instead, they believe an authority decides what the people’s rights are.
“The Founding Fathers outlined every power of the government; if the power is not found in the document, it is because that power was never granted to the government,” Taylor explained. “The progressives, however, believe the constitution is a living document, which changes according to the needs of every generation. As Justice Clarence Thomas put it, the progressives are simply ’making it up as they go along.’”
The founders were largely very religious people, and believed that man’s first loyalty is to God. The progressives overturned this order, arguing that man’s loyalty belongs to the state first and foremost. If they incorporate religion at all into their message, it is to bring the kingdom of God to earth.
Taylor concluded by noting the cyclical nature of American politics thus far.
“The ruling parties in our government have gone from king, to republic, to political elite. We began as a serfdom; for a while, we had sovereignty, but now people are gladly choosing to be ruled as a serfdom once more, so they can be taken care of by the government.”
Christendom College’s politics practica program, directed by professor of political science and economics Dr. Bernard Way, has been a unique feature of the political science department for many years, giving students the opportunities to not only network with known political figures, but also earn credit for rigorous political internships.