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May 04, 2010 - Image 7

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2010-05-04

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Tuesday, May 4, 2010
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

From page 1
and implored graduates to par-
ticipate in their government in the
way they see most fit.
After severe thunderstorms
drenched Ann Arbor Saturday
morning and threatened to under-
mine some of the excitement over
the event, the rain slowed to a
drizzle about an hour out from
the ceremony's start and came to a
complete halt shortly before it was
set to begin. The gray clouds over-
head did linger though throughout
most of the ceremony.
In attendance for Obama's
speech was a big crowd of Univer-
sity and state officials, including
University President Mary Sue
Coleman, Democratic Gov. Jenni-
fer Granholm, University Provost
Teresa Sullivan, University Presi-
dent Emeritus James Duderstadt,
the University's current Board
of Regents and several former
Those on stage and in the crowd
alike roared when Obama was pre-
sented with his honorary degree
and took to the podium to deliver
his remarks.
As the president approached
the microphone, one person in the
crowd yelled out, "We love you,"
to which Obama responded "I love
you back."
Beginning his speech, Obama
described the current political
atmosphere by highlighting a let-
ter sent to him by a kindergarten
class that included the question,
"Are people being nice?"
"Well, if you turn on the news
today, or yesterday, or a week ago,
or a month ago -particularly one
of the cable channels - you can
see why even a kindergartener
would ask this question," Obama
told the audience.
And while Obama pointed to
name calling by politicians and
pundits and a media that high-
lights "every hint of conflict," he
admitted that recent events have
largely contributed to the charged
political climate.
"The fact is, when you leave here
today you will search for work in
an economy that is still emerging
from the worst crisis since the
Great Depression," Obama said.
"You live in a century where the
speed with which jobs and indus-
tries move across the globe is forc-
ing America to compete like never
However, Obama added that
America has had a long history of
partisan rancor.
"Since the days of our found-
ing, American politics has never
been a particularly nice business,"

Obama said. "It's always been a
little less genteel during times of
great change."
Obama's speech then turned
from these challenges and the
toxic political discourse of today,
to what role graduates must play
to improve the country's democ-
racy in the future.
"And now the question for
your generation is this: how will
you keep our democracy going?"
Obama asked. "At a moment when
our challenges seem so big and our
politics seem so small, how will
you keep our democracy alive and
well in this century?"
While not wishing to offer
"some grand theory or detailed
policy prescription," Obama did
have three ingredients he said he
believes are necessary for a func-
tioning democracy: a limited, yet
adaptive government, the main-
taining of a "basic level of civil-
ity in our public debate" and civic
On his first point, Obama con-
ceded that there has, since the
days of the Founding Fathers,
been a belief in this country that
government cannot solve every
problem facing its people. But
at the same time, he said many
believe that some problems are too
big for people to solve for them-
selves, "some things we can only
do together."
The president cited a series
of examples of the government's
greatest successes, from the con-
struction of cross-continental rail-
roads to the creation of a system of
public high schools to the imple-
mentation of financial reforms in
the wake of the Great Depression.
Obama sought to blur parti-
san lines surrounding arguments
over the size of government, dis-
cussing massive public initiatives
launched by Republican presi-
dents, like Abraham Lincoln and
the first land-grant colleges, Teddy
Roosevelt's empowering the gov-
ernment to break up monopolies
and Dwight Eisenhower's creation
of the Interstate Highway System.
Eschewing the common par-
tisan argument over big govern-
ment or small government, Obama
reframed the question, asking
instead "how we can create a
smarter, better government."
"Our government shouldn't try
to guarantee results" Obama said,
"but it should guarantee a shot at
opportunity for every American
who's willing to work hard.
"The point is, we can and
should debate the role of govern-
ment in our lives," he continued,
"but remember, as you are asked
to meet the challenges of our time,
that the ability for us to adapt our
government to the needs of the age

Tate, a resident of Tent City, a self-governing community of homeless people who live in tents, discusses the challenges of trying to
find a place to stay and the stereotypes behind homeless individuals.

has helped make our democracy
work since its inception."
Another way to maintain the
health of the American democ-
racy, Obama said, is by ensuring a
fundamental level of civility in the
political arena.
"You can question somebody's
views and their judgment without
questioning their motives or their
patriotism," he said. "Throw-
ing around phrases like 'social-
ists' and 'Soviet-style takeover'
and 'fascist' and 'right-wing nut'
- that may grab headlines, but
it also has the effect of compar-
ing our government, our political
opponents, to authoritarian, even
murderous regimes."
However, Obama cautioned
graduates that moving away from
such a political culture would not
be easy.
"As I found out after a year in
the White House, changing this
type of politics is not easy," Obama
said. "And part of what civil-
ity requires is that we recall the
simple lesson most of us learned
from our parents: Treat others as
you would like to be treated, with
courtesy and respect."
Obama continued: "But civil-
ity in this age also requires some-
thing more than just asking if we
can't just all get along."
L] Fortthe rest of this story, see
M icgaDay...m

From page 2
Williams said three cases of
domestic assault at the camp indeed
have been reported but that CTN has
a strict non-violence policy and any
resident who violates the policy is
asked to leave. Williams also said the
camp does not present any discern-
ible health concerns.
"It isn't a written rule, but it's cer-
tainly a spoken one - don't make a
mess," he said.
According to Williams, residents
at the I-94 campsite used facilities
available at the nearby Meijer store
and gas station without complaint
from the businesses' respective own-
Last Thursday, the night after CTN
relocated to a new patch of land off of
Online at MichiganDaily.com
The Commencement
Scene: Log on to watch the
Big House's craziest non-
Football Saturday ever.

I-94 near Wagner, the camp held its
weekly group meeting. In attendance
were six residents, including Poirier
and Williams, along with Nord and
Brian Durrance, another MISSION
board member and Poirier's previous
Gathered around a fire pit, the
group discussed the eviction notice
and addressed concerns about the
move and about life at the camp
in general. With many around the
campfire concerned about CTN's
uncertain future, Poirier assured the
group that it will persevere.
It is still unclear if local authorities
will allow the camp to stay at its new
"(If they're on state land), the same
thing is going to happen," said Nolan
Przybylo, a Michigan State Police
trooper. "They're either going to be
arrested or they're going to move."
E-mail alapin@umich.edu
for details.

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