Q&A with Drew President Link touched on the state of the country and foreign crises
October 2023 – Drew University welcomed former U.S. Representative Liz Cheney in the first Drew Forum of the season.
The event, held at the Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown, was generously sponsored by the Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation.
In introducing Cheney, Drew University President Hilary L. Link, PhD, noted the particularly timely need for opportunities like the Drew Forum to hear and discuss complex ideas and respond with a combination of support and reasoned debate.
“Coming together to listen and learn and even disagree, respectfully, is certainly as important now as it has ever been. This is why we are so pleased that we have chosen such an influential guest as Liz Cheney. She is a strong woman leader with a measured voice, an open mind, and a willingness to not only speak her truth, but to follow the values and the mission of the Constitution and of our country.”
Cheney spoke for 15 minutes and offered a number of comments that received hearty applause from the packed audience, the loudest occurring after she offered the closing lesson, “Don’t vote for idiots,” stressing the need for leaders of substance.
In an in-depth Q&A moderated by President Link, Cheney talked about the state of the country and foreign crises, as well as leadership, bipartisanship, and the liberal arts.
Cheney, who served as Vice Chair of the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol, touched on the aftermath of the hearings.
“If Donald Trump himself is not held accountable, then the lesson of January 6th will be that you can in fact provoke a violent armed mob to attack the Capitol to seize power and there aren’t any consequences, and then we won’t live in a republic anymore,” she said.
Regarding the ongoing conflict in Israel and Gaza, Cheney strongly encouraged U.S. intervention, noting links of Hamas to Iran, Russia, and North Korea.
“I think it really does require a clarity of purpose, a clarity of vision, and it requires American leadership,” she said.
When asked about her thoughts on leadership, Cheney tied in everything from motherhood to foreign policy.
“Sometimes people say, ‘Well, national security or foreign policy is really complicated.’ And it is in some ways, but in other ways it really isn’t. If you think about the fundamental lessons that you learn in life, you learn as a parent, one of the most important lessons of motherhood is that empty threats diminish your power and influence, and that’s really also true in national security policy.”
Cheney was adamant that a key factor in fixing the nation’s political, bipartisan turmoil will be through education, including on college campuses.
“College is not about you feeling comfortable,” Cheney recalled being told as a student at Colorado College after a debate with a professor. “It is not about your views simply being affirmed. College, particularly a liberal arts education, is supposed to be about learning and expanding and challenging and testing and figuring out whether what you fundamentally believe is informed, and learning from others.”
The event ended with a preview of Cheney’s forthcoming book, Oath and Honor: A Memoir and a Warning, set to be released in December.