We knew many people would not agree with our endorsement of President Obama.
What we didn’t expect is that instead of complaining to us, the seven-student editorial board that wrote the editorial, most of the strong negative reactions would be taken out on ACU.
I am sad to see the university receive these responses when it had had no participation in our endorsement.
ACU does not endorse political candidates or parties. As the disclaimer at the top of the endorsement (and at the bottom of all Opinion pages) reads, the Optimist’s endorsement only represents the views of the seven members of the editorial board, not ACU’s administration, Board of Trustees, faculty, staff or student body.
Many readers have found it difficult to distinguish why the board’s endorsement is not a reflection of ACU’s political stance. President Phil Schubert is the Optimist’s publisher, but our endorsement does not represent him or ACU.
Allow me to illustrate with an example. If the Abilene Reporter-News were to write an endorsement of either candidate, like many newspapers do, it would not be reflective of the beliefs its owner and publisher, Scripps Interactive Newspaper Group. It works the same way with us and ACU.
While we always respect and welcome constructive criticism, comments that insult our parents, education, common sense and religious beliefs help no one.
Of the constructive feedback we received, predominant themes have been, to paraphrase:
How can a group of Christian students endorse everything the Democratic Party stands for, and why is a student news source trying to affect the election?
We do not believe in all of the standard ideals of the Democratic Party or President Obama. Most of the members of the editorial board would not identify themselves as a Democrat and do not agree with all of the ideals of the party. None of us think it reasonable to agree 100 percent with either party.
Many newspapers write editorial endorsements of political candidates each election. The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Dallas Morning-News and Houston Chronicle are just a few examples of publications that have made endorsements this year.
This is a customary journalistic practice, and it is our chance for a learning experience, especially for those of us who will go on to work for newspapers in the future. The Optimist is a living laboratory, a training exercise for journalism students to gain valuable experience in many different aspects of media.
The purpose of the endorsement isn’t to affect the election results, but to encourage discussion.
If I’ve learned anything about politics, it’s that there is no right answer. Two or more schools of thought dispute most issues, each person believing he or she is right on the issue while every different view is wrong. In some cases, everyone might agree on a goal or truth, but not everyone will agree on the best way to achieve that goal.
The issues of same-sex marriage and abortion are mentioned in many of the reactions we’ve seen in online comments, emails, phone calls and other forms of responses. Most asked how we can endorse a candidate who supports gay marriage and is pro-choice.
Do we agree with Obama’s stance on abortion? No.
And while none of the board members personally support gay marriage, the majority agrees the government has no place restricting select citizens’ rights, in line with every American’s constitutional right to happiness.
We didn’t address abortion specifically in our endorsement because it falls under the issue of health care, under which we agreed Romney has the better plan. And does our opinion on same-sex marriage trump more pressing problems like national debt, foreign policy and health care?
Confusion and murkiness abound when political views are presented as truths rather than ideas. When Republicans and Democrats collide on an issue, both sides often present their beliefs as facts. Both sides argue they are right when too often, neither are.
We don’t have all the answers. We don’t think Obama is the perfect choice, and we don’t think Governor Romney will be unsuccessful if elected.
We could have used several different processes to go about selecting the candidate we would endorse. We chose to look at three important issues, decide our stances on them blind of the parties associated with our beliefs and then find which candidate better matched our stances. We found President Obama better fit our views on foreign policy and the economy, while we agreed with Romney on health care.
This is why we stress the importance of a multi-partisan government. We actually agreed with Gary Johnson, the libertarian candidate, on all three issues and side with him on many others as well (but not some of his more extreme ideas). But the way the current political system is organized leaves us with only two realistic options, and we don’t wholly agree with either.
Our endorsement is not pro-liberalism or anti-conservatism. It is not pro-choice or pro-gay marriage. It’s absolutely not anti-Christian. It is an endorsement for the candidate we believe has the best plan for the most important issues facing our nation today.
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