Nashville-Based Conservative Pundit Bashes Democrats, Media in Campus Address


Jacob Hale, Editor-in-Chief

“Be bold. We need people to stand up,” Cabot Phillips of The Daily Wire advised a gathering of conservative students on Monday evening. Phillips, a writer and podcast host for the popular right-wing media outlet, criticized progressive approaches to history and political discourse in his speech entitled “The Lies of the Left.”

The event, hosted jointly by Vanderbilt College Republicans and Vanderbilt Libertarians, consisted of Phillips’ admonition of four falsehoods that he believes inform modern leftist thought, followed by questions from attendees. The new Nashville native and former editor-in-chief of Campus Reform argued that progressives’ perceived deception is intentional: “A lie is something that is known to be false and is shared anyway with a desired goal in mind.”

The first “lie” outlined in the speech, in Phillips’ words, is that “truth is something that can be shifted.” He attributed increasing moral relativism to the idea that individuals should view the world through the lens of their personal “truth.” He believes this worldview undermines traditional notions of right and wrong, permeating many aspects of society.

The millennial writer’s next target was the notion that the United States is a fundamentally racist nation. Phillips advanced the idea that this progressive understanding of history inspires socialist economic views, pointing out that “people have been convinced that capitalism is a tool of white supremacy.” The speaker lauded the Founders for their “aspirational creed,” which, as he mentioned, has been cited by every major social justice movement in American history.

The belief that “privilege” is exclusive to white men of means, according to Phillips, is another significant inaccuracy. Claiming to have helped coin the term “liberal privilege” to describe the phenomenon, Phillips grinned as he outlined his case for why liberals receive preferential treatment in modern America. The first-time visitor to campus pointed out that left-leaning students can be confident that their perspective will be presented in a class without necessitating their speaking up, whereas conservatives are not afforded this luxury.

Finally, Phillips railed against the “lie of compassion,” which he presented as the idea that compassionate individuals must support left-wing social programs. The self-described “conservatarian” told the audience, “There’s nothing compassionate about government control.” Interestingly, he argued that affirmative action stems from this same sense of compassion; in this case, he views the resulting policy as racist against Asian-American applicants.

Phillips did not make note of any falsehoods parroted by the political right, such as vaccine-related misinformation or claims that the 2020 presidential election was fraudulent.

Questions from students centered around college admissions and government regulation of technology companies. In possibly the only statement that put him at odds with a majority of the attendees, Phillips expressed hesitancy to support federal regulation of social media companies such as Twitter and Facebook. Citing his “libertarian” leanings, he pointed to civil suits that seek to enforce tech giants’ terms and conditions as the best means for conservatives to address perceived censorship.

The speech’s portrayal of former president Donald Trump was mixed. Phillips stated that Trump outperformed his expectations and could be viewed as the best president since Ronald Reagan. Shortly thereafter, however, he criticized the Trump-era Republican Party for becoming a “cult of personality” in which GOP officials waited for a statement from Trump to make a decision on an issue.

Donald Hall, an officer in both of the student organizations hosting the event, told the Vanderbilt Political Review that he was happy with the way the evening turned out. “I think this event with Mr. Phillips was one of the best that each organization has ever hosted, and the turnout was amazing. His intersection of conservative and libertarian ideologies provided the opportunity for some amazing interactions between him and the students in attendance.”

Image Credit: Image by Jacob Hale