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The Election

Friday, September 23, 2016

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A friend told me I was headed into a minefield.

But I jumped at the opportunity to join an amazing panel in Washington, D.C., this week to discuss today's political landscape. The panel included former Louisiana lawmakers, U.S. Sen. John Breaux and U.S. Rep. Bob Livingston, Tulane Associate Professor of Political Science Celeste Lay and renowned journalists Steve and Cokie Roberts.

Politics has always been a passion of mine. I find the vigorous exchange of ideas, the competitiveness of the campaign and the often clamorous discourse and debate all fascinating. The current presidential race has included its share of clamor to be sure – and shows no sign of abating as we enter its final weeks.

Like so many facets of society, I believe higher education plays a crucial role in the political process. As I told our first-year students when they arrived on campus, the ability to discuss and disagree with intelligence, eloquence and civility is one of the most important skills we can teach, foster and practice as an academic community.

To converse with those you disagree with, listen to what they have to say, state your case and respectfully disagree are qualities vital to the future success of our students and our democracy. It is also one important measure by which we can judge the candidates in Monday night's presidential debate. (While also keeping an eye on the Saints vs. Falcons score! Multi-tasking is an important skill, too.)

Signature of Mike Fitts