(LYNCHBURG, Va.) — Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., the conservative firebrand and former presidential candidate, gave the keynote address Wednesday at Liberty University’s weekly Convocation.
It was Bachmann’s third time speaking at Liberty, the world’s largest private Christian college and home to over 100,000 students. In her speech, the self-proclaimed “Constitutional Conservative,” who is retiring at the end of the year, urged her young listeners to focus on the “things that really matter” politically and personally.
Bachmann gave young conservatives a few key pieces of advice:
1) “When a madman speaks, listen!”
When it came to Iran, Bachmann didn’t mince words.
“Usually they let you know what their intentions are ahead of time”, she said, using Iran as an example of a “madman” that represents a threat to both Israel and the United States. “We’re called the great Satan, Israel the little Satan […] their intention is to annihilate the Jewish state of Israel, they have also stated that they want to annihilate the United States.”
Bachmann named three factors that make Iran an especially dangerous opponent; their fissile material, their delivery system and the possibility of weaponization. She also listed Libya, Egypt and Lebanon as countries that pose a threat to the United States and Israel.
2) Always “stand with Israel”
“Never before has Israel been in this situation where literally all nations of the world have come against her,” Bachmann said, adding: “I never thought I would see our country be in a position where we, too, are lining up against Israel.”
Bachmann stressed that it was God’s choice to create the land Israel and claimed with reference to a biblical verse that “every nation that blesses that state of Israel will be blessed and every nation that curses Israel will be cursed.”
She concluded: “If Israel gives up that 40 percent of land […] it will be nearly a suicide pact.”
3) Beware the “future enslavement of literally millions of people”
According to Bachmann, the United States still remains the pre-eminent economic and military powerhouse of the world: “It feels pretty good to be in that situation […] what wouldn’t feel good would be for the United States to lose [its current status and come to the point where] the U.S. is no longer the big dog in the world. What will it be like if the new leader of the world would be Russia?” she asked, adding, “China also has a different sense and view of the world.”
If any of these countries took over the position as economic and military powerhouse of the world, “the future enslavement of literally millions of people into oppression” and “godless communism” would be the consequence, Bachmann said.
4) “Get ready to serve and get ready for suffering”
“I’m not running again,” Bachmann told her audience, but God “is opening doors for you, too […]. Be ready for those doors of opportunity!”
Furthermore, Bachmann claimed that there is a generation of young people that isn’t learning “essential truths”: “If you want to be a leader, as the scripture tells us, you need to be willing to be a suffering servant first.”
5) “Never despise small beginnings”
Bachmann also drew upon her personal background. After her parents split up “we literally lost everything overnight. We moved into a tiny apartment. We qualified for public assistance. We had nothing.”
But, she assured: “The crucibles of suffering will be the greatest blessing God will ever bring to your life.”
As an example, Bachmann told the story of how she had worked three years as an adolescent in order to be able to afford contact lenses. When she finally had saved enough money to buy contacts and wore them riding her bike, she lost one of them. Coming home devastated, her mom drove her back and found her lens.
Bachmann concluded: “I was able to get back what I thought I’d lost; never despise small beginnings […]. That suffering and that work taught me the value of a dollar. I put myself through college, law school, postdoctoral program and working […]. It taught me servanthood and love for people and a broken heart for people in a challenge.”
After nearly eight years in Congress, Bachmann will retire at the end of 2014. She ended her speech with the words: “When we come together, when we contend for what matters, when we walk through that door of opportunity: That’s how a nation changes […]. I’m ready to hand off the baton, and the question is: Are you ready to take it?”
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