On a bright and cool afternoon on the campus of Monmouth College, around 250 students went through commencement with a Pulitzer Prize winner and political commentator providing the words of wisdom.
Jon Meacham was the speaker for the Class of 2016. Meacham has written biographies on Presidents Andrew Jackson, George H.W. Bush, and more. He is also the editor-at-large for WNET Public Media in New York, and former Managing Editor of Newsweek.
Meacham told the graduates to be gracious and hopeful in tough times, and that the skills they’ve learned through a liberal arts education will best prepare them for the challenges ahead.
After the ceremony, Meacham shared his thoughts on the 2016 Presidential race, which is shaping up to be a showdown between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton. He said that contest would provide a great contrast in styles.
“A vote for the Republican nominee will be a vote for a kind of unpredictability and improvisation. A vote for the presumptive Democratic nominee will be one for a certain steadiness and clarity of purpose. And you can make a case for either one,” Meacham said.
Meacham said there are a few factors working in Trump’s favor. He said Trump has done a better job in reaching out to voters who are concerned about America’s working class falling behind in a globalized economy, and that Trump has tapped into a national anger against Washington D.C.
But Meacham believes Clinton should still be considered the favorite to win the White House based on previous political experiences.
“I think this’ll be the largest turnout in American history that we know of. These debates between Clinton and Trump in the fall will be the most watched events in American history. Those who say they just can’t vote, I don’t think will actually end up staying home,” Meacham said.
“The election itself I think is going to be of such a tsunami level that people will not be able to not get involved.”
And Meacham cited Winston Churchill in saying that Americans will eventually do the right thing once every other option is exhausted.