U.S. Rep. Dan Crenshaw talks American values, working in Congress

Lauren Grobe

U.S. Rep. Dan Crenshaw spoke to students on whether America is losing its patriotism and gave them a glimpse into the world of Congress on campus Tuesday.

Crenshaw, R-Texas, is a freshman congressman who serves the 2nd District, which includes large parts of Houston. According to his website, he previously was a Navy SEAL and served in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he was lost his right eye after being hit by an IED blast.

In a full auditorium in Robert B. Rowling Hall, hundreds of people listened to Crenshaw talk about how the political culture of America has lost the traditional values of its founding.

“There’s a crisis of pride in our country,” Crenshaw said. “We’re losing this idea that we should be patriotic.”

Crenshaw said many Democrats, such as former presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke, have noted America’s history with slavery and white supremacy. However, he said slavery doesn’t define the other ideals the country was based on.

“You can separate the sins of America from the founding,” Crenshaw said.

The event was hosted by UT’s College Republicans at Texas chapter, Young Conservatives of Texas and the UT Center for Enterprise and Policy Analytics. Texas College Republicans president Mason Tyndall said Crenshaw was invited to speak to provide perspective on conservative Republicanism.

“He’s a very entertaining speaker,” economics junior Tyndall said. “He’s a big name. We figured it would be a great way to shed light on conservative movements on campus.”

Tyndall said the topic of Crenshaw’s presentation, “What Sets America Apart,” was chosen to highlight America’s accomplishments rather than its failings.

“A lot of times these days, America is more (presented) as what isn’t great about it instead of focusing on what is good,” Tyndall said.

Crenshaw said Congress is not the romanticized workplace on television and can be hostile and frustrating. He compared two political TV shows, “The West Wing” and “The Campaign,” and said the political debate in “The West Wing” was unrealistic because in reality, people are less polite.

“We all love the ‘The West Wing,’” Crenshaw said. “That’s not real life though.”

Crenshaw said he believes Israel is the most important United States ally in the Middle East. During the question and answer portion, some audience members criticized his view on Israel. 

In response to the critcism, Crenshaw said “crybabies” existed on both the left and the right. According to the Houston Chronicle, Crenshaw has drawn criticism from both the far left and the far right because of his more moderate positions, such as his opposition to an assault rifle ban but support for red flag laws.

“For everybody else in the audience that isn’t a part of this small group, you’re seeing a fringe on the right that we do not associate ourselves with,” Crenshaw said.

Tyndall said the disruptive members were part of an unwelcomed group and did not represent their organization.

After answering a question from a student, Crenshaw said there was a culture of “victimization” in America. He said this makes it difficult to determine when real oppression is occurring versus when someone is “just triggered.”

“I don’t just make fun of the left being triggered,” Crenshaw said. “We have them here, too.”