House Majority Leader Eric Cantor to Students: Get Involved

April 23, 2012

The GW alumnus addressed faith, politics and youth engagement at an event organized by GW Challah for Hunger.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., last Thursday encouraged George Washington University students to get involved in issues that are important to them, and ones that will make the world a better place.

“We need your help,” Mr. Cantor, B.A. ’85, told the students gathered at GW Hillel. “Because that’s what’s unique about our country. We’re a country whose power is derived from the people. It’s not a dictatorship. It doesn’t come from on high. It comes from situations like this where good ideas grow. I encourage you, take advantage.”

Thursday’s event was organized by GW Challah for Hunger, a chapter of the national nonprofit which sells the Jewish bread challah to benefit the American Jewish World Service Sudan Relief and Advocacy Fund. The group brought Virginia’s 7th District representative to campus to talk about his Jewish faith, politics, policy and youth engagement, and where they all intersect.

Mr. Cantor urged students to use the resources available to them, like social media and their position at GW and in D.C., to effect positive change.

“What we’re trying to do in the House of Representatives today in a bipartisan way is to try and help bring your generation into the process of lawmaking, of policymaking, in this country,” he said.

The country faces a lot of difficult challenges, Mr. Cantor acknowledged. Providing for others while also keeping a balanced budget is one of them.

“We want to be there to provide for others, and take care of those in need. We find that there’s not enough money to do all the good that we can think of,” Mr. Cantor said. “And these are the challenges we face in prioritizing the money that’s got to be spent and the policies that need to be implemented.” Mr. Cantor later added the private sector and faith communities can help fill the void left by reduced government spending.

In a question-and-answer session with students, Mr. Cantor emphasized the importance of the upcoming election.

“I think that the country’s got a big choice to make right now,” he said. “You’ll hear a lot of people in politics talk about this being the most impactful election of their lifetime. I assure you, your lifetime, this is. There’s so much at stake.”

Mr. Cantor, who got his start in politics as an intern while at GW, said he was impressed by the students who cared enough to be inside on a nice spring day just to hear him talk.

“That says a lot about you,” he said. “And no matter what philosophical persuasion you may prescribe to, no matter what political side you may be on—in this town, Lord knows—it’s important that you’re here.”

In his introduction, GW President Steven Knapp said Mr. Cantor, like many other GW alumni, has dedicated his life to making a difference in the world. “We are very fortunate to have the opportunity to hear from him today,” he said.