Obama endorsement stirs “mini-uproar” at Abilene Christian

A presidential endorsement of Barack Obama run in The Optimist student newspaper at Abilene Christian University has lit a California-sized wildfire among ACU alums and others connected with the school that continues to burn post-election.


The Optimist


Most are angry at the paper’s support for a candidate whose abortion and gay marriage stances are worrying to conservative Christians.  According to the Optimist‘s top editor: “Even after the election, we’re still getting e-mails.  They use all caps in the e-mails to be angry.”


The editorial came in late October after the nine-member editorial board voted five to four in favor of Obama.  The president of the university publicly stated that his main concern is that the preference of five students out of the 5,000 who are enrolled will place the university at-large in a negative light among its McCain-supporting alums and supporters.


As a guest column in the nearby Abilene News-Reporter notes, the controversy raises a larger question of whether a student newspaper with such a local focus should be tackling presidential-sized politics at all.  In my opinion, yes, absolutely.  Student readers may dig all-things-local first but the college rag can also play a bigger part in upping their national consciousness.  Student pubs may not have intimate access to the presidential candidates but with the glut of news available on every minutia of modern elections it’s perfectly reasonable for editors to wade through what’s out there and take a stand. 


It’s also important to remember: Endorsements, like all staff editorials, are not quantum physics.  They are simply discussion-starters.  It’s the paper adopting a stance, laying out its argument, and encouraging feedback, in the spirit of conversation not antagonization.  To this end, the passion embedded in the cynicism that has greeted the Optimist‘s endorsement is a sign that it was successful.    


By the way, here’s part of the endorsement, which I found to be very well-reasoned and the antithesis of inflammatory:


Two qualified men emerged from the exhausting nominating process as their party’s choice for the office of the President of the United States. . . . Sen. Barack Obama is a man whose rise in politics has taken the lawyer with a “funny name and big ears” to the top of his party. Obama’s unique American success story has reignited hope in government, and he promises to bring the change most Americans say they want to see in the White House. . . . In this precarious moment in American history, this country needs change. We believe Obama is the right man to bring that change, and is more prepared than his opponent to guide this country out of the perilous waters we have been sailing for the past eight years.

2 Responses to “Obama endorsement stirs “mini-uproar” at Abilene Christian”
  1. Will says:

    That’s crazy! Trying to silence the newspaper because people are afraid of what alumni will think is an old trick, though. If Abilene Christian alumni can’t tell the difference between a newspaper endorsement and an endorsement from the college, Abilene Christian has bigger problems than a liberal editorial board.

    By the way, this has become one of my favorite journalism blogs.

  2. Stylish Cheeks says:

    How refreshing to hear that a fire has been started among the alums upon news of the editorial board voting in support of Obama.

    I understand the process of electoral freedom, meaning, as Americans, we can vote for our elected officials once we reach 18 years of age.

    What I am having trouble understanding is how long the fire will burn?

    I understand that there are some very loyal supporters of Sen. McCain. I know that many conservatives valued his stance on gay rights and abortion. I have to wonder if it really makes a difference who in office as President of the U.S., because two things are evident: (1) women who want to have abortions will have abortions; and (2) gay rights has been years in the making, and from all indications, is bigger than any president or his policies-past, present, or future.

    In all the years of President Bush’s time in office, I never saw the President’s policies on abortion and gay rights stop anything that conservatives could call beneficial. All I saw President Bush’s policies do was delay the onset of what proponents of abortion and gay rights wanted to bring into action.

    If people wanted change, it was because we have gone from being American citizens with money in the bank, nice cars and trucks to ride, with nice homes, and lots of disposable cash to shop with to becoming broke, broke, broke.

    And who would have thought it would have happened, and when it did, it happened so fast?

    Americans got tired of the things going like they were under the current presidential administration. We saw our family members go off to a war with no cause, and received many of them back in coffins, or alive and traumtized physically and mentally.

    Americans stopped being able to drive so much; and we Americans love our cars, trucks and we LOVE to drive. But how could the nation’s citizens drive to work, much less for joyriding, with gas so expensive, that we had to choose between buying food, buying gas, and forfeiting our mortgages and cars and trucks to the repo-man?

    I seriously wonder where these McCain supporters-or “conservatives” have been while the rest of America suffered.

    It’s time for dialogue to begin amongst the liberals, conservatives, and everyone in between-for open discussion about how great it is to get a chance to make a change for the better.

    Presidential-elect Barack Obama is just the beginning; the responsibility for making change lies in the hearts of all Americans. There should be room for acceptance of change, even if it requires a new way of thinking on the part of conservatives and MCain supporters.

    I could look in Senator McCain’s eyes and how he held his stance and posture, and I could tell that even he knew that the change that America has needed for so long was not for him to do as our President.

    I’m just glad that Presidential-elect Obama is thinking about giving Senator McCain a job. It shows that someone is ready to make the nation’s rebuilding efforts a challenge that will be done by a team built on diversity.

    Personally, I don’t care who’s liberal or conservative in office. I’m more concerned that my President be honest, have the common sense to choose the battles he can win, and work for the people instead of the people working for him.

    Alumni with the fiery attitudes of protest, wake up.

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