Ned Ryun, Founder and CEO of American Majority, recently spoke at the David Horowitz Freedom Center’s 2021 Restoration Weekend on Nov. 11th-14th at the Breakers Resort in Palm Beach, Florida.
Ryun explored some daunting questions like: How did we get here today? How did a duly-elected President Trump get targeted by the DOJ and the FBI by a fake dossier? And how did America end up with “incompetent idiots like Fauci?”
Don’t miss it!
Ned Ryun: All right. Thank you, Lonnie. And yes, he’s absolutely correct about my saint of a wife, Becca. She keeps me sane, she makes me better, and she puts up with some of the craziness that comes with doing what I do. But I’ve got 20 minutes, so I want to get down to business. I love history. I was a English and history major at the bastion of conservative thought, University of Kansas. I say that with a great deal of sarcasm, but I’ve always loved it and have been fascinated by it. And even though I’m known as a political grassroots organizer and do commentary, I’ve never lost my fascination with history. And I’ve always sought to better understand especially our founding, where we came from, how far we have drifted.
So what I want to talk with you today — this morning about is how did we get to where we are today? How did we end up where we are right now in 2022? Because we are very, very, very far away from where we started. And I tell my kids all the time, you are to question everything because it’s in questioning everything that you actually get to the truth. With my kids, there’s one little caveat, they cannot question either Becca or me because we are their benevolent dictators. (Laughter). But everything else is fair game.
And my oldest son, who’s a junior in high school, has really taken that to heart, and it is been fascinating to watch him develop as a person, but also develop as a thinker. And when he runs into things he doesn’t understand or questions, he begins to research and dig and dig and dig. And I’ve been extremely impressed as to where he’s developed as a thinker.
But how did we get to where we are today? How did a duly-elected president by the name of Donald J. Trump get targeted by the DOJ and the FBI by a fake dossier, which was used, knowingly used, as a fake dossier to secure four FISA warrants in a massive abuse of power. And in all of that, there were zero consequences. Think about it, Comey, nobody, had any consequences, went to jail for anything in which was a massive abuse of power targeting the duly-elected president of the United States.
How do you end up with a thuggish raid on Mar-a-Lago with the thinnest of pretenses? How do you end up with concerned parents showing up at school board meetings? We live in Loudon County, so we’re at the epicenter of this — showing up at school board meetings simply questioning what are you teaching our children, and why do we not have more of a say and a role in our children’s education? And for that, for the temerity to question what is taking place, being treated as potentially domestic terrorists and threats to society, how do you end up with dozens and dozens of pro-life and pregnancy centers being fire-bombed and nobody being arrested for that? And yet, on the other hand, dozens of peaceful pro-life protestors having early morning raids from the FBI.
How did we end up with incompetent idiots like Fauci, who knew nothing and knows nothing, and yet declares, I am the science, and is treated as an oracle of God? But even more so, how did we get this government so far removed from the people? Ask yourself. And again, another question that we should be asking ourselves, when was the last time you met with a real decision-maker in D.C.? And I do not mean an elected official; I mean the real decision-makers.
We didn’t get here by chance. We got here very intentionally because this is precisely the point of a movement begun over 100 years ago by people who decided they were well and done with a constitutional republic, and began a slow-moving regime change against the constitutional republic, wanting to move from a republic to an administrative state filled with an educated elite governing. It was this movement that gave birth to what I call the American leviathan, a massive choking beast of a bureaucracy that crushes the freedom and rights of the American people.
So I want to take you on a little bit of a journey, and I’m going to compress 100 years of history into roughly 20 minutes, and describe for you the birth of progressive stateism. I refuse to call it progressivism because it is progressive stateism, and the rise of the first soft, but now ever hardening, authoritarianism that we see in America today.
So we have to begin at the beginning. I call them the four horsemen of the progressive apocalypse. Most of you, of course, are familiar with Woodrow Wilson. What most of you are probably not familiar with is his Study of Administration in the 1880s, a piece that he wrote in which he envisioned the implementation of a powerful bureaucracy filled with the best boys from the best colleges, with as little oversight and interference from elected politicians as possible, as that might corrupt the progress of this bureaucracy. All of his ideas were based off — and he’s very open about this — French and German models of government, not American.
Wilson also made it very clear, in this and other pieces that he wrote, that he deeply hated the constitutional republic’s idea of separation of powers as it led to inefficiencies. You also have Robert LaFollette, maybe not as well known, but a governor and senator out of Wisconsin, who decided that he wanted to break railroad corporations’ hold over the party bosses and nomination process. So he advocated for the direct election of senators, a managerial class to actually govern the people, and an income tax, and eventually, the IRS for the redistribution of wealth.
You have to talk about Herbert Crowley as the third horseman. He’s very little known today, but was a highly influential progressive thinker in the early 20th century. His ideas included the nationalization of corporations, strong labor unions, strong national government, deprioritizing, natural and inherent rights, consolidating power into the hands of a few to resolve any conflicts in society, including the issue of private property. One of his solutions was redistribution. He also believed in a living constitution.
Is all of this sounding somewhat familiar today? These are ideas from the early 20th century. And then you have who I think is one of the most devastating of the four horsemen, a gentleman by the name of Theodore Roosevelt. Theodore Roosevelt was the great apostle of progressive stateism. While in the White House, he advocated and pushed for the Bureau of Corporations, which is now the FTC, to investigate and provide recommendations for regulation to Congress over these corporations.
He also helped pass the Hepburn Act of 1906, and many of you probably have never heard of the Hepburn Act of 1906. It is the very beginning point of the administrative state here in America, because that act allowed the government to look at the financials of railroad corporations to then set, via the government, the maximum railroad rates. After he left the White House, Roosevelt became an advocate of pure democracy. In fact, he would actually speak in 1910 that we should only have property rights if society deems it necessary and useful for the advancement of society.
If you were to look at another real pivot point, a real pivot point in American history, look at the 1912 presidential election. This, to me, is a massive turning away from the founding of this country in which progressive stateism was embraced. There were four major parties in that presidential, in which all of these four horsemen played a significant role. Woodrow Wilson was the Democrat nominee. Theodore Roosevelt was rejected at the Republican Convention. His people left and they started what we know as the Bull Moose Party, but it was the Progressive Party. You had Debs running the Socialist party, you had William Taft running the Republican Party. Three of those four parties were essentially progressive in varying shades.
The only one that made any resistance on some level, and it was a very weak resistance to it, was William Taft and the Republican Party, but this was the beginning. If you want to know where a uni-party idea began, it was the 1912 presidential in which most of the major presidential candidates embraced this idea of progressive stateism and rejection of the founders. So where did all these deeply unAmerican ideas that were antithetical to the founders come from? Well, you have to understand that a lot of these progressive status were deep admirers of Georg Hegel, considered by some as the father of modern totalitarianism.
Hegel is a Prussian philosopher in the early 1800s, but what he really was, was a paid propagandist for Frederick William III. Hegel’s works and writings were meant to extol the Prussian state, and he would write “The state is the march of God on earth.” And he believed in the advancement of the state in all things as the arbiter of all things. For Hegel, the highest pinnacle of civilization was the authoritarian, bureaucratic Prussian state. But even more so, Hegel believed history was movement from the irrational to the rational, and it really was the apotheosis or perfection of man. So how do you advance and progress towards this perfection as a society, or you do it via the powerful state filled with an educated elite meant to govern and guide society towards perfection.
So now come back to American shores. All of these ideas, Wilson, Roosevelt, Crowley, LaFollette, Hegelian ideas injected into our American republic. They were antithetical to the founders; it was like oil and water. In fact, let me explain to you what I consider the real difference between our founders and the constitution Republican progressive status. It all revolves around human nature. The founders were deeply realistic about us as human beings. We are deeply imperfect human beings in an imperfect world who should never be trusted with consolidated power. Thus, they constructed — and I don’t mean to be cynical. I think we are, as human beings, are capable of great good; we are incapable of sustained good.
The founders did not trust themselves. Think about it. They’re sitting in Philadelphia in 1787. They realize as they’re putting together this new republic, they’ll be the presidents, the vice presidents, the judges, the members of representatives in the house. You’re in that room. It is in your best interest to create a form of government in which you hold all the power and they did the exact opposite. Why? Because they didn’t trust themselves. They believed in the diffusion of power, the separation of powers.
In fact, if you really want to know, there was a massive debate between George Mason, who wanted a Bill of Rights, and Alexander Hamilton and James Madison over whether there should be an enumerated Bill of Rights. Why was there even a debate on that? Because Alexander Hamilton and James Madison truly believed that if you constructed the machinery of the republic correctly, in which there was a diffusion and separation of powers, power would never be consolidated enough to actually threaten the rights of the American people. In the end, however, they all came to an agreement in the ratification debates after the Constitutional Convention as an appeasement to the anti-federalists, we will come up with an enumerated bill of rights and attach it to the Constitution.
The progressive status rejected that thinking. They again, in their Hegelian thought, believed that man was perfectable. They believed that since they did not doubt or distrust human nature, it was perfectly acceptable to consolidate massive power into the hands of a relatively few educated elite because that would lead to progress. I call them “utopian status” because they made a bet in defiance of the ages that somehow, human nature could be trusted with consolidated power. It was a terrible, terrible bet that we are now living out the consequences of.
So here’s the kicker. Roosevelt, Wilson, LaFollette and Crowley, and actually, the progressive status movement writ large, claimed that via the progressive movement, they were democratizing politics to give people more access to government. They were huge believers in the initiative referendum, recall, all of these other things, direct elections, there’s a lot of different aspects to it and I’m short-handing it here. But they were advocates of pure democracy, which, of course, the founders strongly rejected.
But the progressives said, we’re doing this for democracy, but all to advance us towards an administrative, a massive administrative state. So try squaring that circle. You cannot have democracy and representative government with an administrative state filled with powerful unelected bureaucrats who are actually meant to govern. So democracy always has been, from then till now, a tool for them to use to achieve the administrative state.
They’re done with democracy. If you haven’t noticed what’s taking place in D.C., there are many people who have been done with democracy for a very, very long time. And it’s not just Democrats, it’s Republicans as well. The first wave of progressivism, led by Wilson who won in 1912, was a triumph for them.
Crowley’s ideas were actually a triumph of the second wave of progressivism. He’s known as the godfather of the New Deal. And the second wave of progressivism saw FD R’s new deal implemented. And I consider the third wave of progressive stateism LBJ’s Great Society. So gradually and then suddenly, you find yourself, here we are today, in an undemocratic, un-American administrative state ruled by a very powerful unelected elite.
So ask yourself, what happens if today, you were to actually challenge the administrative state and its oracles of progress, and declare that somehow, as a freeborn American, you decide — case in point, Donald J. Trump. You want to know what all of the Russian collusion hoax conspiracy was about? It comes down to one thing, who decides? The duly-elected President of the United States shows up. He’s such a great outsider, he still believes in the constitution republic. Believes that as the duly-elected representative of the American people, he is the one who will decide both domestic and foreign policy. And he shows up and the administrative state said, we don’t think so. If you want to know what that was all about, it had nothing to do with Russian collusion or a dossier or any of that. It came down to who decides.
And for having the temerity to question the status quo in D.C., Donald Trump was reviled, he was mocked, he was shunned. He was called a traitor to his country, and he was basically called an enemy of the American state, which we’re all actually enemies of the American administrative state if we’re being honest, because come to you, to those of you sitting here, what happens if you question those educated elite? And by that, I mean truly question them and show up and say, we reject the premise, we question the validity. We question the premise of anything that you’re telling us. Like those parents showing up at school board meetings, considered domestic threats, terrorists, all because they decided they weren’t going to be good little serfs in the feudal administrative state.
But I want you guys to pull the thread with me a little bit more. Again, question everything. If the administrative state is the pinnacle of progress, why would you ever allow the dirty little peasants to potentially meddle with it via free and fair elections? The short answer is you wouldn’t. You wouldn’t let the backwards people, with their antiquated ideas of a constitution republic and separation of powers, anywhere near it. So I believe this, having been in D.C. for 22 years now, in many ways, federal elections especially are mostly sound and fury, signifying nothing until real change happens with the administrative state. Think about it, elections come and go and the state remains.
But you also end up in this administrative state with a credentialed Idiocracy. And what is, is right. There’s no real science, there’s no real questioning, it’s only dogma. You end up with corporate propagandists. I refuse to call them reporters or journalists. They’re corporate propagandists who amplify this narrative. People ask, is there some great conspiracy theory? There is not. All of these people who are either in governments and technology, corporate propagandists, every aspect of life, many of them came from the same exact indoctrination centers of higher learning. Again, that’s what most universities and colleges are today.
So they all come from the same mindset, advancing the same goals and the same narratives. And any time they see what they consider to be an existential threat to their world view and their progress, like Donald Trump, all of them swarm to attack that threat. But you also end up with authoritarianism. I told my wife this morning, the end goal — we were always going to end up the minute progressive stateism started in America.
The end goal was always authoritarianism. That was always the goal, no questioning, no dissent. You will accept what your betters tell you because they are your betters. They are the educated elite who know what’s best for you. And if you were to question them and the administrative state, you are questioning progress. You are questioning what is best for society. And if you refuse to actually sit down and shut up, you will then be considered a threat. We were always going to end up here.
So here we are in November of 2022, and I want to ask you another question. As you sit here and think about where we are today and how we got here, who are the real revolutionaries and seditionists in America today? Revolutionaries seek to overthrow the old order to usher in a new. And I will tell you this, our founders were not revolutionaries. It was not the American Revolution, it was the American Restoration. If you read the founders and what they wanted in the pre-revolutionary days leading into the revolution and in our Declaration of Independence, they wanted a restoration of their basic human natural inherent rights given to them by God, rights that had been declared and written out and assented to by the British king, by Parliament, that they felt had been taken away from them. So that’s why I consider them restorationists.
I consider myself not a conservative, but a restorationist. I want American rights to be restored. I want government of, by, and for the people, truly accountable to the people actually promoting and advancing the American people to be restored. Ancient history was actually my focus at KU, and there’s a story of Cato the Elder during the days of the Roman Republic in which he would end every speech, regardless of the topic, Carthago delenda est — Carthage must be destroyed. Regardless of the topic, he would always end “Carthago delenda est, because he viewed Carthage as an existential threat to the Roman Republic. And in the same way, I would say the same thing — the administrative state delenda est. You have to destroy — [Applause] — you have to destroy the administrative state because it is a threat to every freeborn American and to the potential for the restoration of our constitution republic.
So day one, if and when a Republican president comes into the White House, he has to declare war on the state. He has to abolish the FBI, he has to devolve and diminish the DOJ. He has to break apart the surveillance state. And I think there is absolutely a path in 4 years to diminish, devolve, and destroy 40% of the administrative state. It has to be done. [Applause].
And my time is up, but I will say this. It’s very simple in my mind. Simple to say will be very hard to do. Break the state, drain the swamp, restore the republic. Thank you. [Applause].
Male Speaker: Do you (inaudible) a couple of questions?
Ned Ryun: Yes, yes.
Male Speaker: Thank you, Ned. We’re going to do about 10 minutes of questions, and since I have the microphone and I’m going to walk over to you, I’ve got a little bit of a limp, but I’m going to ask the first question. Can you talk about the 17th Amendment? And would that do anything to help repair where we’re at?
Ned Ryun: I do. I think it’s the 17th Amendment, direct election of senators is a pernicious — it’s a poison pill, the republic. And again, just a little bit, I think we all probably know, but just to remind people, U.S. senators, because of the founders truly believing in federalism, used to be appointed by the various state legislators. They were accountable to that state’s state legislature. During the first wave of progressivism, obviously, with Robert LaFollette and others pushing it, they succeeded in getting to the direct election of senators in which they were not appointed by the state legislators. They were confirmed by the state legislator, appointed by the governor, confirmed by the state legislators, and then sent to D.C.
It became the direct election of senators in the early 1900s, the 17th Amendment. I’ve argued this, if I ever had the ability to do it, I would repeal and abolish the 17th Amendment tomorrow — [Applause] — because all you have are 100 little kings. To be fair, there are definitely a handful of Republican senators that I trust, that I think are in it for the right reasons, doing the right things. But I would argue every Democratic senator and a lot of Republican senators think that they are kings unto themselves with no accountability to their actual states when push comes to shove. Repeal the 17th.
Audience Member: I’d like to ask a question. So you made the history come to life. You’ve given the overall prescription for — in a big view.
Ned Ryun: Right.
Audience Member: But now I would like your prescription for the people in this room to begin affecting changes. So I’m selfish, I want you to tell me what your wisdom has for us.
Ned Ryun: Wisdom might be overly generous. (Laughter). First of all, I think that the most important thing is we have to reject the premise. I think too many Republicans, especially in D.C., have accepted the premise of the administrative state, accepted the premise of everything. Reject the premise, none of this is normal. I ducked out last night to go do Jesse Waters with Pete Hegseth, and we are being told on so many different fronts that the abnormal is normal. In fact, we’re being asked to celebrate the abnormal. We’re being — it’s Orwellian. War is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is power, dystopian future is beautiful.
You have to reject the premise and say, no, I do not agree and you have to vocalize it. It’s one thing to think it, but you have to have the courage to say it out loud. And I’ve gotten — I’ve been doing a lot of public commentary. I’ve been called everything in the book, although I’d never been called a bigot until this summer, until I was on Fox Business actually, in which I said, “If you don’t want monkey pox, don’t go to gay orgies.” (Laughter). Rules for life, guys, I’ve got a lot of rules for life, that’s one of them. (Laughter).
But you cannot be afraid of them calling you names and they will call you everything. They’ll call you a bigot, a misogynist, fascist and Nazi, you name it. You have to reject the premise, you have to vocalize it, you have to speak it out and say, no, I do not. And then it has to be more and more of a public statement.
The other thing I’ll say, and there’s a lot of solutions here, and I’m just trying to give you quick answers. We need to figure out how we actually become more involved in making sure the right candidates win primaries and generals, but also get involved in understanding how we actually have to get the right people in power who use political power. Please understand that what took place in these midterms is that they have perfected their Covid-era early voting mail-in ballot scheme.
We have to — I think I’m in the way of thinking there’s a two-prong approach, and I don’t mean to diverge too much from your question, but we have to play by their rules. They have laid out the rules in some of these states, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and others, where there’s early voting, mail-in ballot, ballot harvesting. Great, let’s beat them at their own game. Where we have the power to outlaw such things, we should outlaw them because they are absolutely ripe for fraud and corruption.
So I hope that in some ways answers your questions because there’s a lot of things that you could be doing. I would argue there are probably some of the American majority, we identify and train people to run for local office, school board, city council. I think we’ve — I would hope that over the last few years, you have understood the importance of local office. A lot of these draconian measures took place because of local officials had the power to, and we were not paying attention. Loudon County used to be a red bastion. Not too long ago, it was an — I called it the Alamo of Northern Virginia, in which you knew Loudon County would go red. That changed over a decade ago, but it’s gone dramatically in the other direction. And we have to go figure out how we become more involved in these state and local elections that are impacting our daily lives.
Audience Member: You probably remember when President Trump — well, first of all, thank you for what you said. This was extraordinary.
Ned Ryun: Thank you.
Audience Member: Really extraordinary. But you probably remember when Trump was inaugurated in 2017, his first words were, “We are taking power out of Washington D.C. and transferring it back to you, the people.” And then when Steve Bannon said, “We’re going to deconstruct the administrative state,” they were on notice that if they didn’t get him, he was going to get them.
Ned Ryun: Yep.
Audience Member: So the question was what do you think of the idea that there are really two caucuses in Washington? There is what we would all agree is the keep power in Washington caucus — most of the political establishment.
Ned Ryun: Right.
Audience Member: And then there are a handful of people, for example, like Paul Gosar, who we heard from yesterday, who are part of what you would call the take power out of Washington caucus. And what do you think of the idea that just as the 17th Amendment and the 16th Amendment added power to Washington, and the amendments that repealed prohibition and imposed presidential term limits, took power away from Washington, that today there might be a take power out of Washington agenda —
Ned Ryun: Yes.
Audience Member: — which starts with constitutionally taking away the power of Congress to change the size of the court, an amendment which 200 members of Congress back, and could continue with a constitutional amendment that requires that regulations be approved by Congress, which in its legislative form, was backed by almost every Republican member of Congress, but it was phony because they could have repealed it. And third, some kind of amendment which would limit the ability of Congress to bankrupt the country. What do you think of that take power out of Washington possible agenda?
Ned Ryun: Sure. I don’t disagree with any of that. I think the first short-term step is you have, I’ve got to look after the elections. I think we are 27, 28 Republican governors now. They actually have to stand up and say “We’re taking all the power back that we have been delegated by the Constitution that is our right under federalism,” and actually stand their ground against D.C. So the first step is really for a coalition of Republican governors led by Ron DeSantis. And I have to tell you, I’m not the biggest fan of Brian Kemp or Greg Abbott, but they actually did a pretty good job, guys, especially during the Covid-era lockdowns on all of that.
But you have to have a coalition of Republican governors that are willing to stand up and say, “We’re going to work together and we are going to devolve power out of D.C. We’re going to take back everything that we believe we are entitled to under federalism as our rights as the states.” That’s the first step. The real next step, if we’re talking about raw political powers, first of all, getting Republicans into power who have political power, who know how to use political power, are unafraid to use political power.
And in a hopefully-soon Republican White House get personnel right. That was one thing that I’ve told Trump, we did not get that right; for 3 years, we did not get presidential personnel right. And you’ve got to get people in there that are willing to go to war with the administrative state every day. There’s a — are you guys familiar with The Plum Book? The Plum Book is about 5,000 positions that every presidential administration is given as presidential political appointees to go into the various departments, agencies, and sub-agencies, a very small number. When you think about it, there’s upwards of 2 million federal employees and that doesn’t include the military. You’ve got to have rock stars on every level. That did not happen in the Trump administration and he knew that a little too late. If we’d had Johnny McEntee day one, we could have done this. So I don’t disagree with that.
I think the first step is Republican governors need to show the real courage. Hopefully, Kari Lake’s going to pull us out; I’m pretty optimistic that she will, and join that coalition and say, we’re done here, we’re not allowing this to take place anymore, and begin kind of pushing back on and begin to devolve power out of D.C.
Male Speaker: One more question.
Audience Member: It seems to me that the groundwork has been laid for an administrative state. and there are a lot of elements in our society, such as the universities —
Ned Ryun: Oh, yes.
Audience Member: — that if you eliminate the administrative state right now, it will come back again because of the universities. And I think the problem is in the word “educated.” There is nothing educated about the person coming out of the university [today].
Ned Ryun: They’re taught what to think.
Audience Member: Sorry?
Ned Ryun: They’re taught what to think, not how to think.
Audience Member: Exactly, exactly. I think —
Ned Ryun: Which was the point of the progressives.
Audience Member: So I think the number one place to start change is in the universities and in the schools. And I think that’s the area that I think we have to begin to lay the groundwork, so that it gives rise to a new administer, a new kind of government, and then start eliminating the administrative state.
Ned Ryun: That’s going to be easier said than done. I don’t disagree with you all, and I didn’t have time to address. The progressives were very much about starting universities and colleges, which was really not a very robust network in the late 1800s and early 1900s. They wanted to come back based off their experiences with the German universities, where they learned all the Hegelian ideas, get them started in America, and then create universities and colleges that would train the managerial class to implement the administrative state.
So in many ways, the university and colleges — not all, but a lot — were actually founded and put in place by progressives or taken over by progressives to advance their ideas to train people on how to actually approach implementation of administrative state. And that’s why I call them indoctrination centers of higher learning, taught what to think, not how to think. You’re not encouraged to have common sense or critical thinking. In fact, if you actually — there is a creed. The Last thing I’ll say, and I’ll shut up; a little bit of a tangent, but I have to say this.
We are all religious people. I just want to say this. The progressives have their own religious beliefs. We all have a set of presuppositions and biases by which we view the world in which we decide what is right and wrong. Progressives have their religious belief, right? They’ve got a crazy creed, 73 genders, man-made global warming; you can butcher babies up to the moment of birth, whatever, you name it. You can change your gender, it’s very luciferian by the way.
And then we have our own set of presuppositions and biases and faith system. And that’s what we’re really seeing today is a clash of religious beliefs when it all comes down to it, and which people have a faith system, it’s colliding. And the question is, they are religious zealots, they are absolute religious zealots. And the problem that we have had over the decades is we are a bunch of careerists. Well, I’m going to go to D.C. and have a great career, and after 20 years, I’m going to retire. Had a great time and I’m going to move on.
Religious zealots who view politics as a religion, as the administrative state as their holy of holies, they’re going to go in and they’re going to do everything they can to shape and form culture into what they feel is the actual image of progress. We have to figure out what we actually believe, truly believe, because I believe that when you actually believe something, it motivates you into action. And action is the soul of restoration. So thank you. [Applause].