The Class of 2020 begins college in the fall of 2016, a U.S. presidential election year. Indeed, when we convene during Fall Welcome Week in August 2016, the national nominating conventions will be behind us and the general election will be in full swing.
Amid national conversations that are likely to be polarized, problematic, and acrimonious, Loyola’s Class of 2020 will engage the election—freely, frankly, openly, and historically—as we read together How to Win an Election. The book is Quintus Tullius Cicero’s letter to his brother, Marcus Cicero, a candidate for Consul (the highest office in the Roman Republic) in 64 B.C.
For all of our concern that modern candidates are unworthy and contemporary elections are flawed, Cicero’s How to Win an Election provides, as classicist Philip Freeman puts it in the book’s Introduction, “a keen sense of how elections are won in any age.” Students who love the “game” of politics will relish Cicero’s clear-eyed recommendations. Students put off by America’s political shortcomings will gain a clearer sense of why, perhaps as a first step to improving conversations about the public good.
In any event, one of the many wonderful things that Jesuit universities do is that we contemplate, debate, and pursue the common good through public and private words and deeds. Written as frank advice to a candidate from his brother, How to Win an Election is our invitation to you to engage contemporary political questions and this year’s election with reflective thought, generous exchange, and the shrewd and critical wisdom of the ages.
Members of the Class of 2020 will receive a copy of How to Win an Election during summer orientation and discuss it throughout November’s election and beyond.