Liberty University students were challenged to ponder the principle for which their school is named during Convocation on Monday as U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Virginia Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli each spoke about the threat of big government to freedom in America.
President Jerry Falwell, Jr. recognized other esteemed guests at Convocation, including Virginia Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-6th District), Del. Kathy Byron (R-22nd District), Virginia Sen. Steve Newman (R-23rd District), and Sherriff Ron Gillispie of Lynchburg.
Falwell said Liberty is blessed to be able to hear from candidates in person and noted an invitation was extended to both major party candidates to speak on Monday.
During his tenure as both a state senator and as attorney general, Cuccinelli has visited Liberty several times. Falwell commended him for his work in both roles, noting he “has done more than almost any public official in America to ensure that our state laws are structured to combat the global issue of human trafficking.”
“(Cuccinelli) has been a tireless advocate of values that are at the core of this institution,” Falwell added. “He has fought for the rights of the unborn, to limit the size and scope of government, and keep Virginia a business-friendly state compliments of the free market.”
Cuccinelli briefly shared his platform with the students, which includes growing the state economy by lowering taxes and supporting industry, like coal. He pledged to challenge the federal government when necessary, noting he was the first to fight the Affordable Care Act (commonly called Obamacare). Cuccinelli also said he will stand up for individual rights, which during his tenure has included helping to exonerate more wrongfully convicted felons than any other attorney general in history.
|Virginia Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli addresses students during Liberty Convocation.|
Cuccinelli declared proudly that he is pro-life and will continue to advocate for life as governor.
“(Life) is the first thing mentioned in the Declaration of Independence,” he said. “It comes even before liberty, because you don’t get any other rights to defend if you aren’t born.”
Falwell then introduced Paul, who delivered the keynote address. Falwell expressed his appreciation for the senator’s “thoughtful conservatism” and commitment to the Constitution.
“Senator Paul has been willing to fight to the bitter end in defense of our Constitution, and yet he has displayed wisdom and pragmatism, when appropriate, that is necessary for the common good,” Falwell said, noting Paul, a physician, is “not a career politician but a public servant.”
Paul’s father, Ron Paul, visited Liberty during his presidential campaign in 2008 and spoke at Convocation. Ron Paul was also on the Republican primary ticket in 2012. He won the primary in Lynchburg because of the large turnout of Liberty students, Falwell said.
“Rand, like his father, has single-handedly inspired millions of Americans, and especially young people, to rediscover their passion for the Boston Tea Party,” Falwell said.
In his speech, Rand Paul illustrated the trajectory of the federal government with dystopian ideas from classic literature and cinema. What was once considered “unthinkable,” like drone surveillance and genome mapping, has now, thanks to advancements in science and technology, become reality, he said. Because of the power these resources hold, Rand Paul urged students to hold the powers of government accountable for how they use them.
“What will your generation stand and fight for? We fought for over 800 years to restrain the state, from the (time of the) Magna Carta (onward). Our tradition has been to fight, to limit the power of the state,” he said. “What would it take? Would it take starvation and beatings for you to give up your rights? Would it take rats pressed up against your face (a reference to George Orwell’s classic novel “1984”) to get you to renounce your right to trial by jury? Or would you let fear alone cause you to relinquish your guarantee to due process? Will we let fear of terrorism allow us to give up our most basic liberties?”
He said man, by nature, desires to control his fellow man, but there is an equal instinct for man to resist. But, as in dystopian lore — such as “1984” or Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World” — with the right resources, a power can snuff out resistance by eliminating privacy. Rand Paul shared how in dystopian worlds, eugenics becomes commonplace in a quest for perfection. He warned students that without accountability, our government could be capable of reaching those levels.
“I believe that America is in a full-blown spiritual crisis. The problem, as Os Guinness puts it, ‘is not the wolves at the door, but the termites in the floor,’” Rand Paul said. “I think we’ve arrived at a day of reckoning. … America has much greatness left in her if we believe in ourselves, believe in our founding documents, believe that our rights come from our Creator, believe in an economic system that has made us the richest and the most humanitarian nation ever. But we must realize that freedom needs virtue. What America needs is not another politician. What America needs is a revival.”