Nates Notes

Bernie Sanders. Terry McAuliffe. Other than the fact that these men are influential government officials, what do they have in common?

Well, each has been invited to Liberty — a proud, conservative institution — despite being liberals. A good portion of the Liberty students will not vote for these men.

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Usually, their beliefs, both politically and sometimes religiously, differ from that of the majority of the student body.

Take for example Democratic presidential candidate Sanders. A socialist, irreligious and pro-choice — some students here consider those words profanity. Yet Liberty invited him.

I can almost guarantee that many were shocked beyond belief when they found Sanders’ name on the fall 2015 Convocation docket. And for all the aforementioned reasons, I cannot say I was not shocked myself. I recall thinking to myself, “Sanders? Like, the socialist guy?” Initially, I was on the fence about his arrival in Lynchburg. But after giving it some necessary thought and listening to Senior Vice President for Spiritual Development David Nasser justifying the decision to bring him in the first place, I came to a conclusion.


Not only did I respect the decision, I almost looked forward to seeing more people like Sanders come in the future. Not because I support the Democratic Party but because of the message that Liberty is sending.

How many high-profile institutions can bring in major political candidates — from both parties — and not deal with student bodies that heckle and sometimes protest the arrival?

Liberty wants to present both sides to the students. It wants to encourage the student body to think for itself. I’ve asked multiple students why they do not approve of Sanders. The answers were similar, yet expected. Initially, some responded with, “He’s a socialist.” I replied, “Why is that a bad thing?” Then the silence came. Some actually strongly disapprove of socialism while having little inkling as to why.

And that reason in and of itself is why Liberty brings in men such as Sanders and invites men such as McAuliffe. Liberty will not tell its students who to like and who not to like. It wants us to be able to learn and think for ourselves.

So next time, when that surprise candidate makes his or her way to the Vines Center’s stage, sit back and listen. You might just learn something.

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