Kellyanne Conway Speaks on A Divided America on Campus

Image Courtesy of the Guardian

By Anna Harvey

On Wednesday, March 16, 2022, Kellyanne Conway, hosted by Young Americans for Freedom, spoke to Catholic University students on “Navigating a Divided America.” This event was hosted in Maloney Hall’s Delta Ratta Auditorium and was attended by about 120 students. 

The talk, a part of the Robert and Patricia Herbold Lecture Series, commenced with a brief address from the president of CUA’s YAF chapter Catriona Fee, reminding students to maintain a respectful attitude and to keep their questions pertinent and respectful during the Q&A portion.

Conway served as President Donald Trump’s Senior Counselor from 2017 to 2020. She is the founder and former president of The Polling Company, one of the most quoted pollsters in media, an attorney who received a degree from the George Washington University Law Center, and the author of a soon-to-be-released memoir, Here’s the Deal.

Many in the audience expected Conway to discuss her time as a campaign manager with President Donald Trump but to start off her lecture, Conway emphasized, “I’m here to talk about you.” 

She encouraged students in the room to be respectful of others beliefs and to use their freedom for good. She additionally stated that currently in American culture, freedom is in peril.

“Freedom is the opportunity to make choices, to make decisions, to succeed, to fail,” Conway said. “And I’m here to tell you also, that you will fail.”

She told students that within their lives, they may encounter disappointment with respect to opportunities they believed they deserved. In spite of these difficulties, however, she emphasized that, “You will pick up the pieces, and you will keep going.” 

Conway continued to address the freedom embodied by American women within their day-to-day lives. She stated that freedom gives Americans the opportunity to pursue education, the ability to walk down the street, and the opportunity to live in a country with a democratic government. 

“What God has made no one can ever cancel,” Conway said. 

She additionally affirmed to YAF members, “You’re on the right side of the freedom debate.” She emphasized that YAF as a whole was not afraid to promote pro-life values, to stand up or kneel for the people of Ukraine, or to foster belief for universal education.

Conway then expressed her disapproval of liberal leaders for refusing to allow students to leave  failing schools, comparing the dynamic to Democrats in the Sixties refusing to let students of color into schools.

Conway quipped that she belonged more at CUA than she did at Trinity College, since they were more fond of their alumnus Nancy Pelosi. 

Conway stated that the moment she entered the White House and took on the role of advisor, the gravity of that role required a certain degree of humility. 

“Gravity and responsibility necessitate humility,” Conway said. 

Conway also said that throughout her career, whenever anyone attacked her, she would pray for those individuals. She additionally stated that since 2017, she has kept her Twitter notifications turned off and consequently is shielded from online harassment. She said that her goal is not to always punch back, but to always have the last word. 

Conways stated that at the end of the day, she knows her true identity, because God had a plan for her and knew her. She encouraged students to 

“The day you were born, you had two things,” Conway said. “You had your name and your family. And your whole life, you should protect both.”

She stated that those who seek to cancel conservatives do not care about either of those identifying factors, that many modern conservatives are instead assigned names of ‘racist,’ ‘sexist,’ ‘homophobic,’ or ‘xenophobic.’ 

“It’s called reacting, it’s reflexing,” Conway said.

She stated that if this happens on campus, in a place of worship, or in the workplace, students instead should ask those who seek to cancel them why they are upset. 

“In the name of unity, in the name of comity,” Conway said, “remember that many people in your circle of life don’t want to sit here tonight; they don’t want to listen. That’s okay.” 

She said that even if people don’t want to listen, that they still deserve respect for their positions. She clarified that those who disagree with conservatives are in reality open to or seeking a message that conservatives ought to give.

“I worked for the most pro-life president in American history,” Conway said. “And he had the heart of a convert.” 

She continued to address concerns on the former president’s sincerity of his pro-life stance, referencing Trump’s question toward Hillary Clinton in the Vegas 2016 presidential debate, in which he questioned Clinton on her support for partial-birth abortion. She additionally critiqued the frequent use of the phrase “women’s issues” when engaging in conversation with pro-choicers.

“We don’t want to be talked to from our waist-down only,” Conway said. “You know what? My eyes, my ears, my brain, my mouth, and my heart are waist-up.” 

Conway referenced upcoming Dobbs case and noted that members of the audience might have pro-choice leanings. She said that she understood the reasoning behind the pro-choice stance and that she personally knew people who were pro-choice. Yet she also clarified that she knew that these pro-choicers were opposed to abortion in the ninth month. 

“Why do we have an entire Democratic party who has a platform that allows for that?” she asked.

Conway continued on to discuss the worsened quality of education since the start of the pandemic, stating that since the pandemic, more people have been awakened to the reality of the nation’s education system. She added that recent poll datas reports that teenagers feel that their lives have been interrupted, negatively impacting familial, romantic, and platonic relationships. Conway noted that Gen-Z has reported that their mental health, physical health, dependence on drugs and alcohol, and other coping mechanisms have also been impacted due to the pandemic.

“I wanted to talk tonight about navigating a divided America. I didn’t say curing it and solving it. I didn’t say unifying it,” Conway said. “I don’t know if we’ve ever been more divided.” 

With respect to current divisive issues, Conway referred to supply chain issues, the crisis at the border, the war in Ukraine, and increased gas prices, stating that these issues are all man-made crises. She critiqued the Biden administration, saying that he has divided the country instead of fulfilling his first-day promise to unify the country.

Conway then moved to discuss women in leadership, in particular referencing Clinton. She stated that recently, Clinton on Twitter quipped that Russia sanctioned her on Twitter. She continued to state that young people might not be aware that when Clinton was Secretary of State, she approved the sale of 20% of the U.S.’s uranium to Russia.  

Conway additionally critiqued the U.S. pullout of Afghanistan, stating that the country left behind $85 billion of equipment and intelligence, and that 13 servicemen died as a result. 

“And we also left there a lot of the rights and gains that women in Afghanistan had made,” Conway added.

Conway questioned that with respect to Clinton, what was the point of having a woman vice president if her organization does not give assistance to women in nations such as Afghanistan? She questioned why leaders with platforms often lacked to use their positions for good.

Conway then moved to address congressional division, with the Senate divided 50/50 and the divide in the House with only a five-seat difference. 

“We’re divided; there is no question,” Conway said.

She addressed differences between Americans, such as abortion, politics, and law; yet she also stated that most Americans do not want to “wear their blue or red uniform all day,” and often wanted to have true conversation with each other. She stated that in order to unify, you have to make the first move in conversation, to invest enough in your future and in those who disagree with you. She additionally emphasized that unification often occurs within charitable contributions, houses of worship, and productive relationships that focus on areas of agreement; she emphasized that divisions in Americans’ day-to-day lives are unsustainable. 

“We can’t have unity unless it’s preceded by common decency and civility,” Conway stated.

Conway explained that another major division in American culture subsists in individuals who spend a surplus of time online versus those who spend time offline. She additionally stated that when you allow people online to hurt you, you give them your freedom. Instead of worrying about people online, Conway said, she instead cares instead about opinions of people she knows and respects. She continued to say that when you make the decision to tear down others online or offline, you are promoting division in the U.S.; she stated that promoting unity, however, does not mean that you have to abandon your opinions.

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