In The Setonian’s Oct. 27 issue, the paper, after a vote by its Editorial Board, endorsed Hillary Clinton for president in its Opinion section.
Since then, there has been a flurry of varying reactions to the editorial. Some readers have supported the piece. Some have appreciated the idea of an endorsement, but not the candidate we chose. Others, for an array of reasons – whether it be a disagreement over political and religious beliefs or a misunderstanding of who the editorial represents – have demanded The Setonian rescind its endorsement.
That will not happen.
While there are some boundaries in the way The Setonian is allowed to exercise its full First Amendment rights at a private, Catholic institution, the paper’s own constitution recognizes the right to endorse a candidate. Still, not all see it that way.
Some have mentioned that Clinton’s stance on abortion conflicts with Catholic doctrine. The Setonian understands this. The Setonian as a whole also acknowledges that it is governed, by its own constitution, not to advocate or endorse anything that conflicts with that doctrine.
That said, we want to make clear that The Setonian – whose editors are diverse in their beliefs, as is the rest of the student body – did not endorse abortion when it chose Clinton. We endorsed a candidate whose platform includes abortion in addition to aisle-dividing stances on a multitude of issues. There is no perfect “Catholic candidate” in this election. That, however, was not going to stop The Setonian from expressing an opinion about the person who we think is best qualified to lead this nation in these troubled times.
“Abstain” is not going to be our next Commander-in-Chief.
Some are forgetting that there is supposed to be a separation of church and state. Look at Clinton’s running mate, Tim Kaine. A practicing Catholic, Kaine eloquently explained during the vice presidential debate that he is personally against abortion, yet still defends a woman’s right to choose. He doesn’t think an individual’s beliefs should govern the majority.
Some have said The Setonian’s endorsement was representative of the entire University and its student body. Nowhere in the editorial was that stated or even suggested. To find out how the Seton Hall community feels about the election, The Setonian had been conducting a carefully constructed online poll of student preferences in which Clinton won in a landslide. The results can be seen in this issue’s front page story.
Some have asked what business a newspaper even has endorsing a candidate. The Society of Professional Journalists Ethics Committee stands solidly behind the practice, saying, “Although some readers think these endorsements signal a bias in the publication’s news coverage, SPJ encourages editorial pages to promote thoughtful debate on candidates and politics.”
The “thoughtful debate” SPJ mentions was our goal, one we feel we have accomplished. We never expected everyone to support our choice. What we did hope for was a robust exchange of ideas, even conflicting ones, as does any news organization that publishes an endorsement.
Putting your neck on the line so publicly isn’t always easy. Ask The Arizona Republic. Established in 1890, the paper had never endorsed a Democrat for president – until this election. The Republic voiced an opinion that did not go over well with all its readers. Many were unhappy. Death threats were made. But The Republic got its voice out. It sparked discussion. It fostered debate.
So did we.
The Voice is intended to best represent the collective opinion of The Setonian’s editorial board. It is written by The Setonian’s Editor-in-Chief and Managing Editor.