“Defending Our Democracy,” Liz Cheney discussed the future of her party and the fate of our country

On Tuesday, Feb. 6, former U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney took the stage at the full-capacity Vanderbilt Langford Auditorium to contend that the 2024 presidential election is crucial to the future of U.S. democracy. “We can’t be bystanders if we want our kids to grow up in a country that is free,” Cheney said. “That means we all have to be engaged and involved.”

Cheney joined Pulitzer Prize-winning author and professor Jon Meacham, co-chair of the Vanderbilt Project on Unity and American Democracy, at the inaugural event for the Carolyn T. and Robert M. Rogers Center for the American Presidency.

The event, cosponsored by the Vanderbilt Project on Unity and American Democracy and Dialogue Vanderbilt, is part of the university’s effort to equip students and citizens throughout the Vanderbilt community with the tools needed to make choices based on facts and evidence and to fully participate in this democratic republic.

Chancellor Daniel Diermeier echoed these sentiments in his opening remarks: “At a time when polarization and political turmoil are again testing the norms of free speech and civil discourse on many college campuses, Dialogue Vanderbilt seeks to reaffirm these norms and values by bringing speakers and thinkers of diverse perspectives to campus. Open forums like this one, and the dialogue they prompt, are crucial for transformative education, pathbreaking research and navigating life as a citizen.”

Cheney said she views today’s political challenge not as a contest of Democrats versus Republicans but as one between those loyal to the Constitution and those who have abandoned their allegiance to our founding documents.

“There is a reason we should have respect and reverence for our Constitution,” Cheney said. “It’s not just that we have high school students that don’t know how the Constitution is structured, we have members of Congress, and they’re often the ones that carry it around in their breast pocket and don’t bother to read it.”

Despite the dire events at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021-which she experienced firsthand-and her subsequent abandonment by her party, Cheney said she is hopeful and confident in the system and the people who make up America’s great democratic experiment.

“Let us all, as we leave here tonight, resolve that we will embrace the grace, compassion, and the love of country that unites us,” Cheney said. “Let us resolve that we will fight to do what is right and that we will be able to look back on this day and say in our time of testing, we did our duty, and we stood for truth.”

The Rogers Center was established in the College of Arts and Science by a $5 million gift from the Rogers family in 2021. The gift contributes to the $3.2 billion Dare to Grow campaign-the most ambitious fundraising effort in Vanderbilt’s history.

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