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A civic sacrament

| Tuesday, December 6, 2016

At 2:47 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 9, once it had become clear that Donald J. Trump would become the next president of the United States, the Notre Dame College Republicans published the following tweet:

“Every President since Carter has spoken at Notre Dame commencement in this first year of office. We’re ready for President @realDonaldTrump.” [Editor’s note: President Bill Clinton did not speak at Notre Dame]

The College Republicans brought to our attention the possibility of hosting President Trump as the 2017 Commencement speaker. This idea led the two of us — a Democrat and a Republican — to consider the process for selecting Notre Dame Commencement speakers.

We value and vaunt the fact that six U.S. presidents have spoken at Commencement; their presence is a source of pride and is indicative of Notre Dame’s prominence as an academic institution.

Of course, not all invitations to POTUS have been met with equal support. For example, in 2009, protest and anger erupted due to President Barack Obama’s position on abortion. Flyers depicting aborted fetuses were disseminated, and the president was disrespectfully interrupted multiple times during his speech, once being called a “baby killer.” We recognize that there were legitimate moral concerns about President Obama’s speech at Commencement, just as we are cognizant of legitimate moral concerns should President Trump be invited to speak at Commencement.

Though the two of us disagree on national political issues, we stand together in support of dialogue, debate and bipartisanship.

In this same spirit, we propose that each graduating class actively engage with the University in selecting their Commencement speaker. We propose that the senior class be invited to recommend potential speakers and have the opportunity to publicly discuss the merits of each nominee with their classmates, faculty, staff and administrators. Commencement is, after all, an expression of the character of this community.

The American people elected President Trump to represent the values and aspirations of the United States of America. Similarly, we believe that our community should have the opportunity to select a Commencement speaker who represents the values and aspirations of Notre Dame. Let us not forget the wisdom of Fr. Hesburgh: “Voting is a civic sacrament.”

On November 8, the American people took part in this sacrament and voted their conscience. Now it is time for Notre Dame to do the same.

Bridget Rickard

Julio Salazar

Nov. 27

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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  • João Pedro Santos

    “The American people elected President Trump”
    Actually they didn’t. Hillary Clinton got almost 3 million more votes.

    • Punta Venyage

      Actually, based on the rules of the game, they did.

      Ignoring the electoral process is like checkmating your opponent in chess with him saying, “but I have more pieces!”

      • João Pedro Santos
        • Punta Venyage

          How is it a false analogy, in your view?

          Trump, 2012: “The electoral college is a disaster for a democracy”

          Technically speaking, this is true, considering the United States is a republic not a democracy.

          But if we are to take his statement as = “The electoral college is bad for America”, then I would simply say that he was wrong when he said this.

          • João Pedro Santos

            I appreciate that you recognize that the US is not a democracy. But I’m seriously concerned when you say that being a democracy would be bad for the US.

          • Punta Venyage

            Why are you telling me about your feelings, namely, what you appreciate and that you’re ‘seriously concerned’? I would like to hear about your propositions of fact instead of your feelings.

            Still waiting to hear your elaboration on the analogy.

          • João Pedro Santos

            Sorry, but it is my “feeling” that any decent human being should support democracy. But I may be wrong and so I would like to know why you don’t support democracy.

          • Punta Venyage

            Ok. Will you first address your prior claim of “false analogy”?