Mark Steyn and the Lincoln Club Annual Dinner

Mark Steyn is as good as it gets for those of us who love the principles of limited government and human flourishing. Steyn is a critic of bad government, which is important, but he is also a critic of big government, which is different. Conservative voices these days are obsessed with only two pieces of statism: (1) Its inefficiency, and (2) Its cost. We bemoan bad government, because we should. We bemoan deficits, because we should. But we never come out and say: Big government is bad at what they do, it is bankrupting us, and even worse, it is robbing us of our dignity and responsibility as human actors. Steyn gets it.

Steyn’s speech at the 51st annual Lincoln Club dinner was a thing of beauty, containing the humorous edge of a Comedy Central program, but also containing the stark warnings that I would have expected from an Old Testament prophet. He congratulated those who exhibit non-compliance with state requirements for bedding at hotels and permit requirements for the pastry some give away at the local coffee shop. He is not kidding around: The intrusionism of modern statism is not just making a mockery of our founding principles through its bureacratic mess and regulatory deterrents; it is literally screaming for citizens to be smaller. Wealth redistribution is not our biggest problem any more; it is the unbelievable movement of societal functions from the productive sector to the obstructive sector.

I can’t give the entire speech script via blog, but I can give the text of my speech introducing him, and I can plead with you to read Mark’s books. Whether you need a good laugh or a good cry, you will be glad you did.

Mark Steyn Introduction – Lincoln Club 2013

The two things I most love in the entire world are, in no particular order, sound ideological thinking, and a good smart ass, so it should be no surprise that I am Mark Steyn’s biggest fan in the world. Mark is not just a “pretty fun guy” to read – he is side-splitting funny, but he is funny while talking about the literal end of civilization. It’s tough to do. But if dry, witty, painful humor is not your thing, Mark will not be for you.

However, Mark Steyn is not the keynote speaker at the 51st annual Lincoln Club dinner because of his entertainment value. He is our speaker tonight because he is a serious thinker, and has serious things to say, about serious issues. When America Alone first came out 8 or 9 years ago, the review I wrote was published with the title, “If a book could be passed out like a tract” … For indeed, the things Mark was writing about then are basically like “four spiritual laws”. That America is alone in a position to potentially stem off the destructive tide of secular humanism and statist progressivism is an undeniable fact; sadly, so is the fact that she appears to not be up for the challenge at the present moment.

I want to believe that America will avoid the end-run we face of nanny-state dependency and political correctness that renders us impotent in the face of global enemies. Mark wants to believe it too, but he is growing skeptical. Who can blame him? But Mark is unique in conservative leadership in that he knows our solutions are not primarily political, but cultural. Too many conservatives believe we are living through a dilemma of mere political aggravation, but Steyn knows that what we face is a dilemma of utter cultural desperation.

I can not recommend both of Mark’s latest books enough – America Alone, and After America. And I still recommend passing them out like tracts. The political and cultural landscape are going to be very different in this country in 20 years, either for the good or the bad. If more people read Mark Steyn, and if more people commit his cruel, sarcastic, dark, hysterical humor to their own mindset, perhaps that City on a Hill can come back.

Finally, before I actually bring up the keynote speaker for tonight’s dinner, Mr. Mark Steyn, a very personal expression of gratitude is owed from my almost three-year old son, Graham Andrew Bahnsen. See, one of the major tenets of America Alone is that we faced a crisis of demographics in the west. Europeans abandoned family over a generation ago, with many countries now averaging less than one child per household. Japan is right there as well. Mark argued years ago that America was at the precipice, still maintaining the EXACT average needed just to breakeven in total population – 2.1 children per household. When I read this, Joleen and I had exactly two kids, and I swore that I would not be responsible for the demise of American greatness by lowering our demographic advantage even more. A third child was borne because of this reality, so on behalf of Graham Bahnsen, the Lincoln Club of Orange County, and all of us who love the west and love America’s founding principles, it is my pleasure to welcome to the stage Mr. Mark Steyn.