Incorporating lessons from American history, Ned Ryun, Founder and CEO of American Majority, talks about draining the swamp and restoring a strong Republic. Don’t miss this rousing speech held at the David Horowitz Freedom Center’s 2021 Restoration Weekend on Nov. 11th-14th at the Breakers Resort in Palm Beach, Florida. A transcript follows.
Ned Ryun: I wanted to give a little bit of a historical perspective on where we’re at today, how did we get here, and where did we start from and all leading up to — because when we do American majority trainings, I’m a big believer you go to the grassroots, you go to where people are at and we give them the tools to be effective, to cause political change. And there’s a theme throughout what — a lot of my words, whereas whether it’s on TV, whether it’s op-eds, whether we do it in American training, it’s majority trainings — it’s action. We must have men and women of action, meaningful, purposeful action, if we’re to take this country back.
So what I want to talk about a little bit is the history of where we’ve come from. I believe — ancient history, as I mentioned the other night, was one of my majors at the University of Kansas. And my view of history is obviously, as we move down that time, the spectrum of time, it’s a cyclical nature, that things repeat themselves. And I think we can draw lessons from where we are today in 2021, from what was taking place in Boston in 1774 and 1775. So when Lonnie said, “You can talk about whatever you want to,” I said, “I’m going to indulge myself and hopefully you, and a little bit about the beginnings of the American Revolution in revolutionary Boston because that’s what The Adversaries is about, my newest book.
And it began as an idea because I had been fascinated for years by the life of Dr. Joseph Warren, who was a singular man, who was a protégé of Sam Adams. And it was the spring of 2020, just as the lockdowns had begun, I was walking. We have a beautiful farm in northern Virginia, was walking our dog through the forest. And you start to have these conversations with yourself of like, I’m not going to live forever. I should probably start doing some of these things that I’ve always said I wanted to do. I should probably write this book about Joseph Warren. And it became more than that. It became this exploration of why did Englishmen, because Massachusetts at the time was 85% direct English lineage. Why did Englishmen stop talking to each other and start shooting each other? How did we get to that point?
And I realized, as I wrote the book about Boston and Bunker Hill, it was a story for all time. It was a story of principal defiance in the face of arbitrary authoritarianism. Does that sound familiar from where we are right now in 2021? We are yet again facing authoritarianism and I always say arbitrary authoritarianism to make a point. All authoritarianism is, by its very nature, arbitrary. It’s not based on higher law. It’s based on a small group of people who have decided that they will enforce their will on other people. And if those people do not comply, they will use force to make them comply to whatever their transient ideas are based on twisted logic and a twisted world view. So what we are experiencing today, our founders of course experienced almost 250 years ago.
I want to talk a little bit about what the essential disagreement was back then and I think you’ll see some of that, what is taking place today. There was — the last living survivor of Lexington and Concord was interviewed; this was almost mid-1800s. And this young person interviewing him asked “Why did you fight? Why did you, as an Englishman, take up a musket and start shooting essentially your fellow countryman. Was it because of the Tea Act?” And this guy said “I never drank tea; I didn’t know anybody that drank tea.”
“Was it because you were inspired by the great ideas of John Locke and these other great philosophers and their ideas of freedom?” “I didn’t read John Locke; I only read Isaac Watts, the hymns and the Bible.” “Well, why on earth did you end up fighting then? Why on earth would you take on what at the time was one of the greatest military powers in the world?” He said, “We fought because we’d always governed ourselves and always meant to. And Parliament and the Kings’ ministers meant that we shouldn’t. That’s why we fought because we’d always governed ourselves and always meant to.”
Now the fundamental reason people will say — some historians will say, well, it was the Stamp Act, it was the Tea Act, it was the Sugar Act. It was all these economic reasons that we actually decided to declare independence from England. That’s not true. The Englishmen that came to these shores and colonized America brought with them certain ideas that they considered sacrosanct. They were English ideas.
The Magna Carta, the 1628 Petition of Right, the 1689 Bill of Rights and eventually the Massachusetts Charter, all of these documents had either been assented to or signed off on by English kings or Parliament. Within these documents were basic belief systems, right to self-governance, right to self-defense, all of these things that we see written into our eventual founding documents.
Now they believe that these ideas were sacrosanct. They taught their children. Generations had come to believe these ideas are non-negotiable. It was a social contract between Englishmen on this side of the Atlantic and the Englishmen on the other side. The problem was the Englishmen on this side of the Atlantic considered those ideas non-negotiable, they were sacrosanct. The Englishmen on the other side thought they were more a series of suggestions.
Makes sense today, because our founders and the men and women at the time in the 1770s believed that their rights did not come from government. It did not — they did not come from an earthly power. They truly believed that a higher power had given them their essential rights, their fundamental rights — life, liberty, pursuit of happiness, the right to self-defense, the right to assembly. All of these fundamental rights, they believed had been given to them by their creator. What no earthly power had given, no earthly power could revoke. And when Parliament and the King’s minister said, “We’re revoking all of these rights,” this founding generation said, “We don’t think so.”
Now in their act of principal defiance, it wasn’t one of those things where they immediately picked up muskets and started shooting each other. They started making rational arguments, fundamental arguments, of this is why we have our disagreements; you’re taking away our right to self-governance, all of these things. Parliament wouldn’t listen, the King’s ministers wouldn’t listen; of course, King George III would not listen.
And finally, it got to the point as you’re accelerating into the mid-1770s, the British government essentially said after the Boston Tea Party, “We’re shutting down the Boston Harbor” — very draconian. They were called the Intolerable Acts. “You will either do what we say, or we will force you to do it. You will comply. And if you don’t, we’ll send more regulars, we’ll send more war ships, we’ll send more cannon and we will crush you until you do what you’re actually supposed to do.”
You have to understand at the time, Boston was a police state. There was essentially a British regular for every adult male. This was not some soft-handed approach of like, hey, we hope you finally come to your senses. This is, we are going to essentially starve you into submission by shutting down the Boston Harbor and all commerce. Other colonies were coming to the rescue of Boston at the time. And if you don’t, there will be harsh consequences for you.
Now, imagine yourself in this situation, what do you do? This wasn’t danger far; this was danger near. British regulars on the streets of Boston, a physical presence, one-to-one regular for adult male. What do you do? What does principal defiance look like in that situation? So my book, The Adversaries, it really does center around Joseph Warren. And since time is short, I just want to focus on one incident that took place.
Every year, the Bostonians, organized by Sam Adams, would give an anniversary oration for the Boston Massacre.Joseph Warren had given one previously, but this March 6, 1775, was the 5th anniversary of the Boston Massacre. So if any of you have been to Boston, the Old South Meeting House is a pretty incredible place and I got to go there for some of my research. And we were the first — I took my daughter with me, and we were the first ones in that morning. And standing inside the Old South Meeting House, the sun’s — the shafts of sunlight are coming in. You could imagine you could see Joseph Warren giving the speech to 5,000 gathered Bostonians.
But they were not the only ones there. About 40 British officers had come that day to sit on these steps of the pulpit, right in front of Joseph Warren, to intimidate him into silence. In fact, they’d let it be known the week before that if anybody spoke any words of treason, what they considered treason, against King George III, they would cut down the speaker in front of the gathered Bostonians. Imagine yourself as a 33-year-old in front of 5,000 Bostonians, British officers armed — they weren’t supposed to be, but they were.
And you look out over the heads of the gathered Bostonians and you say, “Our country is in great danger now, but not to be despaired of. You were to decide that important question upon which rests the happiness and liberty of millions yet unborn, act worthy of yourselves.” Think about that. Not danger far, danger near. He knew that there were plenty of those British officers that had said “We will assassinate whoever says any words that we consider treasonous.” Those words echo down through these last few centuries, “You were to decide that important question upon which rest the happiness and liberty of millions yet unborn, act worthy of yourselves.”
And I was fascinated by Ric’s like some of Rick’s comments. What we do today, we have an obligation to those that came before us. I hope we understand that. There are many, many people who have made incredible sacrifices for the free American Republic. We have obligations for today’s generation and we have obligations for the future generation.
And I’ll just reiterate what Ric said. There’s no cavalry coming over the hill; there’s no — some great cavalry coming over to save you. I tell this to American majority trainings all the time. “You are the cavalry, like the people” — just look at each other, you are the cavalry. it’s dependent upon what you will do. The happiness and liberty of millions yet unborn depends upon what we will actually do today.
And I’ve always said this, and I want to tweak it a little bit. Action is the soul of revolution. But when you think about it, the American Revolution was not a revolution, it was a restoration. It was Englishmen saying “We are going to fight to restore our God-given rights that you have taken away from us by force. We will not quietly submit,” because you have to understand the founders believed again that this — their creator had given them these rights, all of these amazing rights created in the image of God.
One of those fundamental rights was the right to defend those rights, the right of self-defense. In fact, they believed to not defend those rights was to shame their creator, was to treat those rights with disdain, and to shame their creator if they did not fight to defend those rights. Think about that mindset today. So I want to tweak the action is the soul of revolution. Action is the soul of restoration. We will only restore the free American Republic by what we do, not what we say, but what we actually do.
And all of you sitting in this room have the ability to go home and actually change your communities. I’m going to get into Loudon County, that’s why I reside. Loudon County and Virginia changed this, this last fall — this last week because people decided they were sick and tired of it. And they were moving into action, meaningful, purposeful, targeted action. And everybody, of course, was paying attention to Youngkin and Sears, Amy Ares, the state-wides.
We got involved with American Majority Action at the House of Delegates, I think; fingers crossed because the Democrat Speaker of the House has now rescinded her concession, and is demanding recounts in two of the delegate races that would put it to a 50/50 tie. But we did take back the House of Delegates; it was 55/45 and now it’s 52/48 in our favor.
The other thing that you are going to be seeing more news about in the next few weeks — on Election Day, we were helping Ian Prior — I hope that some of you recognize that name — collect signatures to recall 5 Loudoun County School Board members. We succeeded. All 5 Loudoun County School Board members that have been fighting, basically fighting parents — and this is — people ask what is really going on in Loudoun County? And really, a lot of these school boards, it’s CRT, right? Sort of. 50% of the people in Loudoun County that were surveyed at the door said, yes, we strongly oppose CRT. So okay, 50%.
You get 70% of the Democrats and Independents when they say “We are furious that the School Board has stopped teaching advanced courses because advanced courses are racist.” So you get parents that way, but where you really get all the parents is when the little authoritarians on the Loudoun County School Board say, “You will shut up and sit down. We will take your $1.5 billion every year, and we will teach your children whatever we want to teach them. And you can up and sit down.” And parents said, “We don’t think so.” That’s happening across the country.
Now I want to transition a little bit kind of leading into this next — how did we end up where you have these little authoritarians, not only on school boards, but inside all levels of government? “We know what’s best, you dirty little peasants, you little troglodytes. You will shut up and sit down and we will lead you to a more progressive future, utopia on earth. If you only shut up and sit down, we will lead you there. Of course, you might have to give up some of your rights. We’re going to take a lot more of your money from you.” None of this is by mistake.
I want to make — be very clear on this front. People like, well, energy prices are going up. Did you see the clip with Biden? Like I can’t believe how much we’re paying for a gallon of gas. Really? You didn’t? You never saw that one coming? To be fair, he probably didn’t. I’m not really sure he knows where he is every day. This isn’t a bug, this is a feature, this is intentional. They truly believe, through a variety of means, the Green New Deal, that they will use that to finally achieve their idea of the administrative state, and the educated elite being the all, being everything; that big brother does really truly love you. It might be painful along the way, but eventually, you’ll come to see that we know what’s best for you. This is all —
The Green New Deal is nothing but an attempt to basically restructure our economy and then therefore, restructure our society, to the point where they get — and don’t think that the Green New Deal is about any of this. It’s about one thing, it’s coercive socialism. If you do not comply to the Green New Deal — which by the way, 13 idiotic Republicans voted not for an Infrastructure Bill, they voted for the gateway to the Green New Deal. That’s all a vehicle by which to achieve their ends.
My next point that I want to make is this. We got here because about 100 years ago, 120 years ago, beginning of the 20th Century, you have to understand when the founders had come out of this conflict and finally gained their independence from England, they based our founding documents off some of their shared experiences, right? They had just fought. They had had their rights denied, they had fought for their independence. They were going to instill these ideas and these experiences into our founding documents.
I tell people the time, whatever you think about the founders — and I’m going to address why are they trying to cancel Thomas Jefferson and George Washington? But the founders got one thing very, very right and do you know what it is? They got human nature right. They did not trust human nature, they didn’t even trust themselves. Think about it. You’re sitting in Philadelphia, 1787, for that summer hammering out how are you going to form a Constitutional Republic? You know that if you succeed, you’ll be the Presidents, you’ll be the Vice Presidents, the Congressmen, the Senators, the judges, self-serving, you might have rigged the system to make sure you would absolutely be those people.
They did everything in their power that summer of 1787 to defuse power and make it even harder for them to actually have power moving forward. That is the beauty of what the founders did. They did not trust imperfect human nature in an imperfect world. They fundamentally believed that we are capable of great good, but we’re incapable of sustained good. So what do you do with this conundrum?
You have this — human beings who have been made by God who have these incredible inherent rights, but we’re imperfect. I hate to tell you that. I hope you’ve all come to that conclusion. I’m almost 50 now. We could talk about — well, my wife could talk about all my various imperfections, but you come to a realization. Again, you’re capable of great good, incapable of sustained good. What do you do? So you have this situation where you have to protect and advance the rights of human beings; at the same time, never trust imperfect human beings with consolidated power. You create the diffusion of power; you create the separation of powers.
And they did that throughout everything, the federal government, they believed in federalism, which today is kind of a fiction in which all powers not delegated to the federal government are to be relegated back to the various states. It’s the 10th Amendment. They were optimistic realists. That’s why I call the founders optimistic realists. They were realistic about human nature, but they were optimistic they could create a government that would defend and protect our God-given rights and give us the [freest] amount of space, while at the same time, not consolidating power into imperfect human beings.
The 20Th century, this new mindset starts to develop, Woodrow Wilson being one of the godfathers of the Progressive movement, in which maybe this whole Constitutional Republic’s not working. Maybe we should come up with something better. Society’s not advancing as quickly as we would like it to. They decided that they were going to start something called the Administrative State because they actually were utopian statists. They were deeply naive. In fact, they didn’t distrust human nature, they trusted it. They believed that human being could be perfected through what I call scientism, which is, by the way, a belief system in and of itself. By the way, we’re all —
I just want to say this, so that you guys all understand and I just ran out of time, but I’ve got a few more points to make. So Lonnie, give me 5 minutes and I’ll be done. Scientism is a belief system. What do I mean by that? We all have a basic set of presuppositions and biases by which we view the world. So you’re all people of faith at some level, I just want to tell you that, your set of presupposition biases by which you view the world in which you decide what is right and wrong. All of these Administrative State-educated elites also have a certain element, even though they deny it, of a faith system because they do not have complete knowledge.
So what you are seeing is a competing set of differing faith systems and world views out of which come various policy and governmental governing ideas. That’s what we’re up against. So these utopian statists decide we’re going to consolidate power into the hands of imperfect human beings. Guess what the ultimate end of a Progressive Administrative State is? It’s statism in which the state is all because guess what? If you are going to start an Administrative State filled with unelected, educated elite — Woodrow Wilson writes about this.
We’re going to create an administrative bureaucracy in which we’re going to fill with the best boys from the best colleges, with as little oversight as possible from any elected officials, because that might actually pollute the process by which we achieve progress. Go back and read his original writings and you see the ultimate end is where we’re at today in which an Administrative State decides in 2017, we’re the ones that decide. Duly-elected President Donald Trump shows up and goes “I’m the one that decides.”
We have gone back to where we started, powers deciding. It all comes down to who decides, who makes the laws and where do those laws come from? That’s what the founders wrestled with against the British Empire. The only problem with what they were experiencing then and what we’re experiencing now, the enemy was at the gates. What we’re experiencing now is the enemy is inside the gates. These authoritarians — because that’s what Progressives are — are inside the gates. So what do we do?
And I’m closing here, Lonnie. We fight. We fight them on the school boards, we fight them at the city council, we fight them at the mayoral, we fight them at the state legislature, we fight them at the statewide, we fight them at the federal. To each one — this is why I love Victor Davis Hanson so much. The episode I saw where I said, “I want to be him when I grow up” is to each one, their station, they must be doing everything within their power to make sure that we fight. So that’s one of my challenges to you. You have to go home from here. You all have the ability to do something meaningful.
I just saw in Ohio where 4 moms and dads ran for school board at the same time and won, and I believe they now have the majority of the school board. Each one of you, when you go home probably — and maybe not every — maybe not in Minnesota — but a lot of you have the ability to go home and basically take over your school boards. You can take over your city councils; you can become involved in state legislative races and congressional races. It is incumbent upon you and what you do moving forward.
And I don’t believe we have a massive window, but I am optimistic. I’m like Ric, I’m a natural optimist. I believe we have a window of opportunity and that we can be successful if we actually will go home and do what we’re supposed to do, because I’m telling you, what I want to see happen is each one of us doing something that we regain power. And if we regain power in 2024 and have Ric Grenell as Secretary of State and Kash Patel as head of FBI, we go to war with the Administrative State.
And I will say this in my last — my final remarks. Donald Trump would always say, “We got to drain the swamp.” The foundation of the swamp is the Administrative State. You break the state, you drain the swamp, you restore the Republic. Thank you.