At the conclusion of the Washington Week trip I am left physically exhausted though intellectually and civically energized! Led by Professor Schaller, Dr. Krannawitter, and Dean Saxby, students visited think tanks, memorials, monuments, historical battlefields, renowned authors, museums, both chambers of Congress, the Becket Fund, and other influential D.C. individuals. We learned about foreign policy, education, our founding, the civil war and the ideas that led to the conflict, political persuasion, and many more issues facing our generation. [More]
Washington D.C. – Monday, May 14th CCU students gathered on the top floor of the American Enterprise Institute. The room could almost be mistaken for a combat command room thanks to AEI scholars leading students into a military simulation of the March 2002 Operation Anaconda during the Afghanistan war. The operation lasted several days and resulted in a Coalition victory with nearly 100 casualties and 500-800 Taliban killed.
Students were tasked with roll playing key persons in the U.S. attack. At the end of the simulation students were asked a very straightforward question “was this mission a success?” The majority of students seemed to think that the mission was not a success due to confusion and the loss of U.S. soldiers in battle. Now it is clear that, having gone through the simulation, aspects of the operation were not handled properly and that mistakes were made; but is it unreasonable for us to look at a battle where fifteen Coalition lives were lost en route to disbanding the largest gathering of Taliban and killing 500-800 enemy fighters? I think so.
We are at a strange time. With great advancements in technology we are made to think that anything is possible and in an arena where human lives are on the line we are hesitant to accept any loss. But this is still war and the men who fight for this country believe that there are certain things worth dying for. I believe we all should take such a noble stance and honor their sacrifices and acknowledge the great victory of this battle. Of course I pray that no life is needlessly lost, but I will not look on this battle as a loss.
For the information given to students by AEI click here.
Wednesday night, Washington, D.C. – American Enterprise Institute & Heritage Foundation scholars, media members, writers, donors, Congressmen gather along with 20 CCU Washington Week students & faculty. The occasion; Arthur Brooks, president of AEI, is speaking about his new book, “The Road to Freedom”. The lecture focused on the battle between conservatives & liberals in the public square. Brooks explained that as president of AEI it is clear that the truth and statistical backing rests within the conservative ideas and policies. Despite this, the left is winning the battle. Brooks believes this quandary is caused by the failure of conservatives to make a strong moral argument for our beliefs and our ignorance of the neuropsychological proof that moral arguments affect human brains in a way far more powerful than solely logical arguments.
To illustrate the failure of strictly logical arguments versus a moral case Brooks tells a joke – ‘Three friends go out golfing; a psychologist, a priest and a free market economist. They find themselves playing behind two incredibly slow golfers. These golfers are painfully slow and are ruining the friends’ day at the golf course. After several holes of impatiently waiting behind these two men who are shooting upwards of 12 strokes per hole, the three ask the caddy to allow them to play through. The caddy replies “you guys are free to play through, but I want you all to be aware of how rude you’ve been… Remember the fire at the schoolhouse last year, and the two firemen who lost their sight while rescuing 13 children from the blaze? Well that’s them and this weekly golf game is their most coveted source of fun since losing their vision, and you three have been heckling them this entire time.” The psychologist replies, “Wow, here I’ve devoted my life to trying to help people and I just learned a valuable lesson today.” The priest says “Oh my, I have a contrite heart and I have been humbled by these two great men.” The free-market economist pauses for a moment, and then says, “It would be more efficient if they were to play at night!”’(Paraphrase Quote)
Clearly the economist in this joke has made a factual and relevant argument, but he has completely failed to address the moral reality of this situation and thus ignored an integral element of human nature. This anecdote masterfully illustrates the climate of political discourse between the right & left today. Brooks went on to show that the right is not devoid of moral substance. Rather he showed that every claim has moral implications, and that we must reach towards those implications in our argumentation in order to reach others with the truth where it so often is overlooked.
My time in D.C. with the CCU and Centennial Institute Washington Week clan began with not the greatest of surprises – after driving 1,670 miles from Denver my car’s fuel pump failed just twenty miles short of our destination. Sparing you further details of the dilemma; I had a very interesting discussion with the driver of the tow truck, Kevin. Kevin made it very clear that he backed Obama for re-election. After unsuccessfully prying into his reasoning for such a stance, I began to lose hope for the discussion. Then Kevin introduced the idea of term limits for Congress. Kevin was highly in favor of a possible limit of service on the Hill for both chambers. This proposition is not foreign at CCU, Centennial Institute, or conservative dialogue in general, and provided a needed common ground between Kevin and myself on our short ride to the garage. This conversation would not be the last time that term limits would be raised during this trip.
On Friday, former Colorado Congressman and Senator, Hank Brown led CCU students on a tour of the Capitol. Senator Brown has extensive knowledge of the Capitol’s art, history, and symbolism. As a former Senator, Hank Brown provided CCU students a nearly unlimited access tour of both chambers. One very special place we found ourselves in was the House Appropriations Committee room. In this room, a portion of the fresco is composed of a painting of the Roman Senator and leader Cincinnatus being called from his plough to defend Rome. Senator Brown told us the significance of this lies not in the fact the Cincinnatus heard the call of duty and went to save Rome, but that he returned to his farm and denied the dictatorship of Rome after completing his service. This historical event was repeated in the life and service of George Washington. Both men loved their country, they left their home to serve and defend but returned when their service was no longer required, turning down dictatorial power.
These two men, Washington more commonly, are cited by those who argue for a Congressional term limit. We have seen a handful of men go to congress and serve valiantly at their posts as Senators of Congressman then return to their homes and occupations, imploring others to do the same. But are these self-imposing term limiters to be compared to Cincinnatus and Washington? To know this we must know the enemy in all three cases. In Cincinnatus’s time the enemy was the attacking Aequi forces. During Washington the threat was the British Empire. But today the greatest fight in front of a conservative congressman or woman is the fight to stop & reverse government growth and defend constitutional government. And while universally imposed term limits would theoretically aid that pursuit, Conservatives are not raising the memory of Cincinnatus or Washington when they leave the government in the hands of the entrenched spenders while patting themselves on the back for showing restraint. I applaud the honorable service of these Senators and Representatives, though I feel this is one area where leading by example hurts our cause. These strong conservative members should fight to the end of the battle; until term limits are instated, then leave their posts with dignity.
If you're on Facebook, see hundreds of great photos from CCU's Washington Week by going to Matt Lenell's page. (Must "friend" him to see the pix.) You can also search for the group he founded, Washington Week 2009, and join that. And if you're not on Facebook, you should be. Get with it. Hat tip to Matt for also serving as our videographer throughout the trip, capturing a complete archive of all the briefings and study sessions.
CCU's Washington Week was capped off perfectly on Friday, May 15, as eminent Coloradan Hank Brown treated us to a six-hour roving seminar through public and private areas of the United States Capitol, where he served as a congressman and senator from 1981 to 1997. In the Senate Brown succeeded Bill Armstrong, who is now President of CCU. After retiring from public office he served as president of both UNC and CU, and he continues today as a faculty member at Boulder, where he teaches a political science course on American history and government as brought to life in the US Capitol's art treasures. A short version of that course highlighted the final day of our study trip. Here are five snapshots. (1) Things began with breakfast in the Senate Dining Room under George Washington's gaze from the 1910 stained glass window where the General is seen conferring with Lafayette and Von Steuben. Hank Brown is at right in blue shirt. Seated clockwise from him are CCU delegates Sarah Shibley, Maria Katz, Callista Clark, Dean Bill Saxby, Mike Wheelis, and Natasha Starceski.
(2) Sen. Brown explains the filibuster rule in the ornate Senate Reception Room as Renee Hunt, Samantha Scoggins, and Maria Katz listen. Portraits of Henry Clay (R) and John C. Calhoun keep watch.
(3) Here the Missouri Compromise was forged in 1820 and Sumner was caned by Brooks in 1856, Brown tells CCU history professor Stan Dyck in the Old Senate Chamber, replaced when the Capitol's north wing was added in 1859. Our conservative crew had no trouble obeying the "Keep Right" sign.
(4) Brown provided in-depth commentary on each of the monumental paintings that line the Capitol rotunda, including Trumbull's famous "Signing of the Declaration of Independence." Sacrifices later made by many of the signers bore out their expressed pledge of "lives, fortunes, and sacred honor" in the American cause, he noted. (Boy in yellow, center, must have been told that gumdrops periodically rain from the dome.)
(5) Painting of the 1787 Constitutional Convention on a stairwell below the House Chamber occasions another of Hank's history lessons. After lunch with him in the House Dining Room, we headed out for a last bit of sightseeing and shopping before vacating our dorm and boarding the Metro for Dulles Airport and a late flight to Denver. What a way to finish our week!
(Washington, DC) Thomas Krannawitter's "Citizenship for New Americans" and Samuel Huntington's "The Clash of Civilizations" were the prep readings for our delegation from Colorado Christian University as a weeklong study trip to this world capital began today.
Prof. Bill Saxby, CCU humanities dean, and Prof. Stan Dyck, history department chairman, are leading the group of 16 students representing 10 different majors. I'm along to offer context from my experience as an appointee of Republican presidents from Richard Nixon to George W. Bush, and to explore Centennial Institute opportunities for future internships and onsite learning.
The week's theme of "America in the 21st Century World" will be developed in briefings for our group by the Center for Security Policy, the Institute of World Politics, the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, the Alliance for Vigilance (which monitors radical Islam), the Dutch Embassy, and the Pentagon. We'll also spend time at the US Capitol with Rep. Pete Hoekstra and former Sen. Hank Brown, meet with executives from the Washington DC Examiner and Fox News, and confer with the Christian Embassy, a ministry to political leaders.
CCU's Washington Week is new this year, and enthusiasm in the group is high. We'll return to Denver on Friday evening. A student writer-videographer team will chronicle most of the above events. Watch for further reports here on the '76 Blog.
Note: We're staying at a Capitol Hill dorm as guests of the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities. Here's the view looking west from their rooftop deck.