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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Photo by Photo by Robert O’Brien

Mike Pence’s speech featured topics such as increasing military spending,  lowering the deficit, and criticizing the current administration and congress.

This Veterans Day, former Vice President Mike Pence visited Texas A&M to speak on instilling a “patriotic education” in America’s youth, as part of his “Preserving American Liberty & Freedom” lecture series. 

Pence, who launched a podcast called “American Freedom” with the hosting organization Young Americans for Freedom, or YAF, in September, joined the national organization as the Ronald Reagan Presidential Scholar in February. This campus lecture at Rudder Auditorium was the first announced event in the 2021-2022 campus tour. More dates will be released in the coming weeks.

“We are thrilled to have Vice President Pence speak at Texas A&M and many other schools this year,” YAF President and former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said in a press release. “As classrooms run rampant with far-left ideas and professors, it’s more important than ever that students hear a pro-freedom, pro-America message to counter the indoctrination they face on a daily basis.”

The event was hosted by the A&M chapter of Young Americans for Freedom. Founded in 1960, YAF boasts hundreds of high school and college chapters across the nation that advocate for conservative ideas through activism projects and speaker events.

“Our organization strives to elevate conservative voices and to spread traditional values to a new generation of conservatives,” Caleb Haisler, chairman of Texas A&M YAF, said in a press release. “With these goals in mind, we are thrilled to offer students and faculty the opportunity to learn from Vice President Pence’s vast experience and to dialogue with him about the future of our great nation.”

Congressman for Texas’ District 17 Pete Sessions attended the event, as well as former Rep. Will Hurd, who gave a lecture titled, “Getting Big Things Done: Debugging Tech Policy on Texas A&M’s campus” last month. Also in attendance were College Station Place 6 City Councilman Dennis Maloney, whose recent — explicitly nonpartisan — reelection race went to runoff, and College Station Mayor Karl Mooney.

Students in attendance hissed at appearances of President Joe Biden and other prominent Democrats in a campaign video played ahead of Pence’s appearance, paid for by political action committee Advancing American Freedom.

Texas A&M YAF Campus Outreach Director Rachel Sweeney, economics senior, delivered Pence’s introduction and welcomed the veterans in the audience.

“After graduating [university], Vice President Pence practiced law, led the Indiana Policy Review Foundation and began hosting The Mike Pence Show, a syndicated talk radio show in Indiana,” Sweeney said. “In 2000, he launched a successful bid for his local congressional seat in Indiana, entering the United States House of Representatives at the age of 40. 

“The people of Indiana elected Vice President Pence six times to represent them in Congress on Capitol Hill, where he established himself as a champion of limited government, fiscal responsibility, economic development, educational opportunity and the U.S. Constitution,” Sweeney said.

Pence began his lecture with a celebration of veterans, retelling of his upbringing and a call to action for the youth who were listening.

“Rachel knows I prefer an introduction shorter than that,” Pence said. “I am simply a Christian, conservative and a Republican, in that order.

“There is this day in November where we remember all the men and women — some 15 million over the course of our nation’s history — who answered the call, put on the uniform and came home,” Pence said. 

Pence’s recurring motif of the night was “the freedom generation,” directing students to turn to defend core conservative values.

“With your help, we will keep the torch of life and liberty alive because I believe yours is the freedom generation in America,” Pence said. “It was the voice of the 40th President of the United States, Ronald Reagan, whose commitment to a strong national defense, limited government and traditional values inspired me, and I joined the Reagan Revolution and never looked back.”

Pence lauded his stated accomplishments during the Trump Administration, including the mass appointment of conservative judges like Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett, increased military spending and the establishment of the 1776 Commission. The commission was developed as a conservative response to the New York Times’ 1619 Project, a reevaluation of American history from the perspective of the first arrival of enslaved Africans in the year 1619, but has since been dissolved by the Biden Administration, according to CNN.

“First and foremost, let me encourage you to wrap your minds around the founding documents of this country,” Pence said. “Don’t read books about the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution. Read the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. They are themselves the greatest charters for freedom.”

Pence described the founding documents as a to-do list from the Founding Fathers for contemporary Americans to fulfill.

“It’s what our work entails,” Pence said. “To provide for the common defense, we need your generation to understand that peace comes through strength. Weakness arouses evil. [We need your generation to understand] that border security is national security and a nation without borders is not a nation.”

Pence’s past and present rhetoric for strong border security was a point of concern for students in the Council for Minority Student Affairs, or CMSA, who hosted a “Lights for Immigrants” vigil on Nov. 2, CMSA President Sofia Chunga Pizzaro said at the vigil.

“Pence being on Trump’s Administration with all the policies that have affected not only immigrants on a national level, but as well as locally undocumented students due to [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals] being rescinded, that’s very personal to our organization,” Pizzaro said. “That administration and [Pence] being a key part of the administration really affected us [and the immigrant community in Bryan-College Station].”

CMSA members were a part of a student coalition that coordinated a protest of Pence’s Veterans Day lecture outside Rudder Tower, CMSA Vice President Aldair Monsivais said at the Nov. 2 vigil.

The Texas A&M YAF chapter announced that more speakers would be scheduled for the spring 2022 semester, and that members hoped to secure speakers such as conservative political commentator Ben Shapiro.

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