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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Editorial: Inauguration not a ‘partisan’ event

    Our 44th president has avowed his aim to transcend partisanship and “”divisive”” politics, to seek to represent all Americans and not merely those who voted for him. While that’s not likely to stop anyone from criticizing him on ideological grounds ðð-ÿas it shouldn’t – few would doubt the sincerity of that goal.

    Is that enough to make his inauguration a non-partisan event? That question crossed a lot of minds yesterday, when Barack Obama’s inauguration was screened by UApresents. Some were troubled by the fact that an official university entity, rather than a partisan organization, was sponsoring what UA College Republican President Ry Ellison called “”political activity.””

    These doubts are well founded; if UApresents had hosted a campaign event, a protest or a letter-writing campaign in favor of the new president’s policies, we would be right to fear the long, oppressive arm of the state creeping into campus life. That would be a deplorable precedent to set, regardless of one’s politics.

    But it is ludicrous to think that a presidential inauguration is a “”partisan”” event. It is not. Barack Obama is the president of the United States, not the president of the Democratic Party. He owes his allegiance to us, and to the Constitution – not to the leaders of his party.

    An inauguration is “”political activity”” only in the broadest sense. Would an event that celebrated the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, for example, be considered “”political activity””? What about an event celebrating American soldiers? The old distinction between our political institutions and political activity is still worth keeping clear.

    It’s pointless to argue that UApresents wouldn’t have sponsored an inauguration screening had John McCain been the president. We can’t know that. McCain certainly wasn’t lacking for campus supporters, and it’s not unreasonable to imagine that his home state’s largest university would have stirred up enough enthusiasm for an official screening.

    It’s true that the last two inaugurations weren’t screened. But the simple fact is that UApresents didn’t show the 2000 and 2004 inaugurations because there wasn’t an overwhelming demand to show them. George W. Bush, regardless of what one might think of his politics, didn’t have an overwhelmingly large following among college students -ÿcertainly not one comparable to conservative hero Ronald Reagan, who enjoyed an enormous campus following. Not coincidentally, Reagan also had wide appeal across the political spectrum – something that couldn’t be said of Bush.

    UApresents was entirely right to sponsor the screening. Had the UA Democrats sponsored the event rather than a nonpartisan group, it would have sent the message that only Democrats were entitled to watch the inauguration.

    That’s not the point of an inauguration. The ceremony is a celebration of the country’s political institutions and the peaceful transition of power. It’s not a celebration of Barack Obama; it’s a celebration of the office he holds.

    Yesterday belonged to every American, regardless of one’s personal political affiliation.

    Editorials are determined by the Daily Wildcat opinions board and written by one of its members. They are Cody Calamaio, Justyn Dillingham, Taylor Kessinger, Heather Price-Wright and Nickolas Seibel.

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