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Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse | Wiki­media

When the class of 2017 grad­uates in May, America will be facing four years of either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton as pres­ident. We’re going to need a darn good com­mencement speaker.

For the most part, the fresh batch of grad­uates will venture into the world much like other Hills­dalians who have gone before: as lovers of the Good, pur­suers of the Truth, and defenders of things like virtue and char­acter. We’ll have to learn how to uphold our prin­ciples in a world hostile to the liberal edu­cation and tra­dition we cherish.

What’s dif­ferent for many of us is that the 2016 “bad choice” election will have been our first taste of the pres­i­dential voting process. After that dismal expe­rience, we will need a com­mencement speaker who is willing to fight for the sake of his ideals — and who can tell us how to do the same. The best man for that job is the Nebraska senator who’s become famous for being what Donald Trump’s “chief political nemesis in the Senate,” according to Politico: Ben Sasse.

As a politician, Sasse is a rare breed: a man of prin­ciple and a staunch Christian who not only talks about ideas like virtue and fol­lowing one’s con­science, but also puts those beliefs into practice. The 44-year-old senator, who only assumed office in 2015, is a statesman who stands above the pol­itics of the moment, resisting the claim that any­thing but a vote for Trump is a vote for Hillary. He’s refused to endorse Donald Trump despite fierce crit­icism from his fellow Repub­licans both nationally and near-unan­imous renouncement by the GOP in his own state of Nebraska.

That’s because Sasse is a real con­ser­v­ative, though he shirks labeling himself. “One election won’t make America great again,” he tweeted in Feb­ruary. “Defending the Con­sti­tution will.” In May, in an open letter to Trump sup­porters on Facebook, he wrote, “Parties are just tools to enact the things that we believe. Political parties are not fam­ilies; they are not reli­gions; they are not nations – they are often not even on the level of sports loy­alties. They are just tools. I was not born Repub­lican. I chose this party, for as long as it is useful.”

“If our Party is no longer working for the things we believe in,” he con­tinued, “Like defending the sanctity of life, stopping Oba­maCare, pro­tecting the Second Amendment, etc. – then people of good con­science should stop sup­porting that party until it is reformed.” No matter who is pres­ident in 2017, Sasse can offer us proof that to vote one’s con­science and hold oneself to a higher standard than political party or elected official — even when it means gaining crit­icism from fellow con­ser­v­a­tives — can still be done.

Moreover, Sasse can speak to Hills­dalians not only as a true fellow con­ser­v­ative, but also as a fellow lover of edu­cation. He’s no stranger to the aca­demic life we value here at Hillsdale. He holds five degrees, including a bachelor’s from Yale and a Ph.D. in history from Harvard. Moreover, he loves the liberal arts: he holds a master’s from the small liberal arts St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland. He’s studied at Oxford, taught at the Uni­versity of Texas in Austin, and served for five years as pres­ident of Midland Uni­versity, a small college in Fremont, Nebraska.

Finally, Sasse can speak to Hillsdale grads not merely as a politican, but as a man: a loyal husband to his first and only wife Melissa (who he nursed back to health after she suf­fered a stroke at a young age) and a faithful father to three children (whom he and his wife home­school).  

The college’s admin­is­tration may rightly balk at asso­ci­ating with the anti-Trump cam­paign. Nev­er­theless, Sasse’s words at com­mencement would be rel­evant and enlight­ening to us as Hills­dalians— rel­evant for hardcore #Nev­erTrumpers. Even stu­dents who end up jumping on the Trump band­wagon and voting for him as the “lesser of two evils” can still look to Sasse for advice and encour­agement.

Every Hillsdale grad has to struggle to learn to serve our nation while still acknowl­edging alle­giance to a standard of Truth higher than that of the tem­poral gov­ernment. Sasse knows firsthand what it means to do that — and is bound to have valuable words for us as we go out and attempt to do the same.