Commencement Speech Invitations Favor Liberals

Back to June 2015 Ed Reporter

Commencement Speech Invitations Favor Liberals

Results of the 23rd annual Young America’s Foundation Commencement Speakers Survey found that liberal speakers were favored six to one at the top 100 American universities. They called this an “established trend,” noting that in 2014, the ratio was five to one; in 2013, four to one; and in 2012, seven to one. Among the top ten colleges, as rated by U.S. News and World Report, no conservatives were invited to give commencement addresses in 2015; at the next 50 ranked colleges, nine liberals were invited for every one conservative.

commencement speakersA review of 2015 commencement speakers shows that Obama administration members were popular, but “not one conservative official currently serving in office was scheduled to speak.” (YAF.org, 5-11-15)

But according to a Washington Post reporter, students miss out because, as he writes, “Conservatives give better commencement addresses than liberals.” The author compared two books of compiled speeches given to graduating students by liberals and conservatives and found the conservatives to give better speeches in the following ways.

  1. Conservatives are more likely to address students in a one-to-one manner, “focusing on people more than movements,” meaning the speech will be more meaningful to individual graduates.
  2. “Conservatives give more actionable advice” that is specific and useful, instead of the sweeping generalizations about “changing the world” that liberals tend to offer.
  3. “Conservatives are less likely to “suck up to” graduates.
  4. Conservatives relate more interesting anecdotes.
  5. Keeping in mind that most commencement speeches are “forgettable,” conservative speeches tend to be shorter.

(Washington Post, 5-14-15)

President Obama told graduates at the Coast Guard Academy, “Climate change constitutes a serious threat to global security, an immediate risk to our national security, and, make no mistake, it will impact how our military defends our country.” Obama made his climate-change pitch on the same weekend that Politico.com reported that “the Islamic State took over another Iraqi city. This time it was Ramadi, a city in which Americans died to capture in the first place years ago and comes after the fall of Mosul. The next major city on the conquer list for ISIS is Baghdad, not to mention the fact Christians have been essentially eliminated from the country.”

In his commencement speech at North Carolina Central University in Durham, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan told graduating students:

The most vital attribute in the world you’re about to enter is not critical thinking or fluency in another language. It’s about whether you’re able to see the world through another’s eyes. The key factor of success for any society going forward is what percentage of its people are change-makers. It’s the new literacy, and empathy is the foundation of that new way of being. (News-Observer, 5-9-15)

Liberal comedian Stephen Colbert told graduates at Wake Forest University, “Get ready for my generation to tell you everything that can’t be done, like ending racial tension, getting money out of politics, or lowering the world’s carbon emissions. . . . Your job, pro humanitate, is to prove us wrong.” (Winston-Salem Journal, 5-18-15)

Former Secretary of State and National Security Advisor during the Bush Administration, Condoleezza Rice, stressed to graduates at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia the importance of an educated populace. She said that her grandfather showed her family, by example, that education was one solution to racism, by earning his degree at Stillman College. Rice told graduates to find their passion, to be optimistic, to seek out those who disagree. She said, “All too often differences are used to divide.” She told graduates that “there is no Constitutional right not to be offended,” and that they should try listening to opposing viewpoints, rather than taking offense.