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PHOTO: Stanford Uni­versity Pro­fessor of Political Science Terry Moe addresses an audience at Hillsdale College’s annual Con­sti­tution Day event Sept. 15 at the Renais­sance Mar­riott Hotel in Wash­ington, D.C. (Kris­tiana Mork/Collegian)

Hillsdale College Pres­ident Larry Arnn and National Review Senior Editor Jonah Goldberg clashed over Donald Trump’s views of the Con­sti­tution, com­mitment to con­ser­v­ative ideas, and fitness for office at the college’s Con­sti­tution Day Cel­e­bration in Wash­ington, D.C., on Sept. 15.

Hillsdale College stu­dents, sup­porters, alumni, and faculty gathered at the Renais­sance Mar­riott Hotel in Chi­natown to cel­e­brate the rat­i­fi­cation of the Con­sti­tution.

During the event’s first panel, titled “Trump and Con­ser­vatism,” Arnn and Claremont Institute Senior Fellow John Marini sparred with Goldberg over whether or not Repub­lican pres­i­dential nominee Donald Trump adheres to the Con­sti­tution.

Goldberg argued Trump isn’t con­ser­v­ative because he has said he rejects American excep­tion­alism and con­sti­tu­tion­alism.

“Getting Trump to talk about the Con­sti­tution is like getting my daughter to eat Brussels sprouts,” Goldberg said. “She’ll do it, but it’s not a pretty picture, and she tries to get it over with as soon as pos­sible.”

Arnn dis­agreed, stating Trump has con­sis­tently advo­cated for con­sti­tu­tional pro­vi­sions.

“I made a spe­cific claim,” Arnn said. “And that is the rule of law and the sep­a­ration of powers are central and that Trump has spoken con­sis­tently well on it. And as far as I can find, that is true.”

Senior Graham Deese said he was dis­ap­pointed with the panel, noting he was sur­prised how extensive the support for Trump was among audience members.   

“The Donald Trump dis­cussion really demon­strated the lengths that con­ser­v­a­tives will go to dilute them­selves about the qual­ities of the can­di­dates,” Deese said. “They’re defending Donald Trump, even with his obvious neg­ative qual­ities. Just how extensive the support was for him was quite sur­prising, when I’m certain most of those people never sup­ported him in the primary.”

Later, Terry Moe, Stanford Uni­versity pro­fessor of political science, faced oppo­sition during a second panel from the audience. Moe argued giving the exec­utive branch of gov­ernment more law­making authority and lim­iting that power in Con­gress would increase gov­ernment effec­tiveness. His remarks were shouted down and greeted with laughter from the audience.

Senior Gwen­dolyn Hodge said the audience’s response to Moe’s con­clu­sions dis­ap­pointed her.

“We talk about how we are willing to bring in liberal speakers, and we’re open to that kind of thought,” she said. “But one man was in the room, and he was attacked.”

A few of the six members of Hillsdale’s George Wash­ington Fel­lowship Program, however, said the other events over­shadowed the con­flict. The cel­e­bration also included a dinner and keynote address by Sen. Jeff Session, R-Ala., and a lun­cheon at which Todd Huizenga, senior research fellow at Calvin College, spoke. Other pan­elists included Hillsdale Pro­fessor of Pol­itics Ronald Pestritto and F.H. Buckley, a pro­fessor at George Mason Uni­versity School of Law.

“Con­sti­tution Day was an incredible expe­rience,” senior Emily DePangher said. “It was a great oppor­tunity to have fun and also to connect with the donors and just be able to appre­ciate Hillsdale from an outward per­spective.”

  • Dave Edwards

    “I made a spe­cific claim,” Arnn said. “And that is the rule of law and the sep­a­ration of powers are central and that Trump has spoken con­sis­tently well on it. And as far as I can find, that is true.” Trump’s actions in business and his per­sonal life say oth­erwise. He can talk all he wants (and he does). His record is another story.