Constitution Day | Pepperdine Professor Gordon Lloyd warns against Utopian and nihilism; ‘Can we be democratic and be decent?’


By Michael Hernandez

MALIBU—Pepperdine University School of Public Policy celebrated Constitution Day with a noon zoom conversation with Dr. Gordon Lloyd warning Americans against utopianism and nihilism and asking the question: “Can we be democratic and be decent?”

Constitution Day observes the signing of the United States Constitution on Sept. 17, 1787 (233 years ago) at the Constitutional Convention at Independence Hall in Philadelphia.

The Constitution Day Conversation with Dr. Gordon Lloyd was facilitated by Dean Pete Peterson with the topic of: “What have we remembered about the Constitution? What have we forgotten?

The Constitutional Day Conversation began with a lament by Dean Pete Peterson that the Los Angeles Times did not run any articles today on Constitution Day. “Today, we should be remembering Constitution Day. We don’t really forget the Constitution because it is always there.”

“There is a certain tension within the American soul about whether we are good or not?” said Dr. Lloyd. “Is America ill-founded? The 1619 Project would say ‘yes.’” The 1619 Project developed by The New York Times Magazine in 2019 “aims to reframe the country’s history be placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americas at the very center of (the United States) national narrative.”

“We need to remember the founders are founders; and not finishers. We need to remember the spirit of the Constitution or the process. If we don’t have the capacity to persuade, the game is over. When the game is over, when argument is over, we need to be able to shake hands and accept the outcome.”

“We have two dangers we must watch in America: utopianism and nihilism. There is a strange connection between nihilism and utopianism. The answer is where do we stand on enlightenment? For a lot of conservatives this is a debate between the ancient and modern world.

“Our Constitution is part of the Enlightenment process. Are we willing to go through problems to have a more perfect union?  We need statesmen who have values but understand our limitations and work through them. 

“We need to understand the American story. What was the miracle of Philadelphia?

  • God had his finger on the (delegates) and blessed them or/and
  • Americans rose to the occasion and compromised.

“We have (a nation) called America. There is a certain way Americans do things. Character counts. Americans have character. We accept the outcomes of electrons and we have discussions and deliberations with graciousness.”

Dr. Gordon Lloyd co-authored with former Pepperdine University President David Davenport (1985-2000) “How Public Policy Became War” (May, 2019) and has edited a number of books on American Founding including: “The Essential Antifederalist,” “Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787”, “The Essential Bill of Rights,” and “The Two Narratives of Political Economy.”

The Pepperdine School of Public Policy and it’s 50-unit master degree program is one of four graduate programs at Pepperdine University Seaver College in Malibu and features summer classes in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Gordon Lloyd concluded “A Constitution Conversation” by saying: “May the blessings of liberty be upon you.”

Dr. Gordon Lloyd

Michael Hernandez, Co-Founder of the Citizens Journal—Ventura County’s online news service; editor of the History Makers Report and founder of History Makers International—a community nonprofit serving youth and families in Ventura County, is a former Southern California daily newspaper journalist and religion and news editor. He worked 25 years as a middle school teacher in Monrovia and Los Angeles Unified School Districts. Mr. Hernandez can be contacted by email at [email protected].

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