As of last week nobody else appeared willing to say it: thank you. I commend Rider University, and moreover the Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics, for hosting former Gov. Mike Huckabee last week. To bring someone of such stature to our campus is something we should all be proud of. Seemingly, we all were not.
Admittedly, I too was hesitant at the thought of inviting Huckabee; this was not the Grand Old Party (GOP) candidate I endorsed, as I was not particularly fond of his politics, nor was he someone I knew very much about. However, my political contentions did not lead me to brash rejection of him as a speaker like some members of the Rider community.
Dean of Students Anthony Campbell was one of the few people to provide reasonable commentary on the event. Universities do have the “obligation to provide students with all sides and opinions and to promote discussion and debate,” which is what this university did. For those of us who were in attendance at the event, we were enriched and entertained. Huckabee delivered a (for the most part) nonpartisan, pragmatic speech riddled with comedy. This type of experience is seldom seen from anyone, let alone a politician.
On the other hand, Dr. Matthew Goldie, an assistant professor with the Department of English and the Huckabee protest leader, was one of many people to provide unreasonable commentary on the event. If you recall, Goldie was quoted in last week’s edition of The Rider News as saying, “[w]e do question whether there was not someone more effective [than Huckabee] at encouraging an intelligent discussion on campus.” I feel the Political Science Department, the Rebovich Institute and the university administrators deserve more respect than to accuse them of not taking careful consideration of all options available to deliver an effective, intelligent political speech. Now, had such a decision been left to the English Department, or one of its professors, that would have concerned me.
Similarly, the criticism given to the speech was unwarranted; to say Huckabee offered no solutions is a complete farce. His solution to remedy a failing health care system was to stop treating disease and start preventing it — health care vs. disease care. As for education, Huckabee asserted that music and art had been taken out of numerous school curriculums; his solution was to reinvest in and once again require those programs. To what alternative does requiring those courses interfere with Huckabee’s “ideas about less government control?” Promoting creativity and individuality, as opposed to science and mathematics, is the antithesis of control.
In typical fashion, the liberal machine kicked into gear at the slightest sign of conservatism. Huckabee is not controversial nor is he an extremist. If you’d like to criticize somebody, make it Donna Brazile: following the Presidential Inauguration on a nationally televised newscast she proclaimed, in defense of stealing a fleece blanket from President Barack Hussein Obama, that “we have a black president … this was free.” Conservative students stopped short of criticizing liberal politics and seized the opportunity to compel Rider University to recognize and appreciate all points of view. In real world politics, we have seen glimpses of a struggle analogous to that which we are seeing at Rider in the Fairness Doctrine; just as Rider liberals contest conservative points of view, liberals abroad seek destruction of the conservative voice while conservatives seemingly uphold every man’s right to free speech under the Constitution, regardless of one’s political affiliation, so long as they too can have theirs.
What I find most unfortunate is the inaction on the part of protesters and dissidents to voice reasonable concerns in a reasonable manner. Huckabee himself said to question politicians and if they don’t answer, to vote for someone else. People are entitled to their own opinion; criticism and scrutiny are essential to an effective democracy. Failing to raise valid questions when given the chance, inaccurate analysis and unsubstantiated claims are an ineffective use of opportunity.