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April 28, 2016

Cornell Political Groups Express Discontent With Establishment

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Clarification appended

Cornell Democrats and Republicans echoed national feelings of disenfranchisement, saying many students feel disenchanted with establishment politics as the primary process unfolds.

Austin McLaughlin ’18, Senior Vice Chair of the Cornell Republicans, said the right’s distaste for Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex) has plagued club members for months.

“[This disillusionment] was pretty clear since the beginning with the early Republican debates,” he said. “Donald Trump and Ted Cruz received outright boo’s.”
He added that disappointment with the party establishment on campus seems to be present within both political parties.

“I think the campus as a whole is anti-establishment, especially on the Democratic side,” he said. “On the Republican end … I believe there is a sense of dissatisfaction with the current options and political process as a whole.”

Robert Barrett ’18, Webmaster for the Cornell Democrats, noted that many students have criticized the role of superdelegates in party politics.

“Not only have endorsements been given on party insider and outsider lines rather than actual ideology or policy, but the establishment has also represented its choice through superdelegates, who have supported Hillary Clinton regardless of the votes of their constituencies or the contests as a whole,” he said.

McLaughlin said he believes that support for Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) is indicative of this disenchantment with establishment politics.

“Widespread support for Bernie Sanders at Cornell indicates that students are upset with the status quo,” he said.

William Bristow ’16, President of Cornell Democrats, said the party “clearly does have some control” in choosing the Democratic nominee, but added that most Sanders supporters he knows are motivated by policy rather than anti-establishment sentiment.

However, he did acknowledge that there are problems with voter registration in New York.

“There are absolutely issues with voter registration in New York State,” he said. “It is frustrating for students that New York does not have same-day registration.”

McLaughlin noted that it was difficult to gauge the degree to which students trust the voting process , citing the outpouring of enthusiasm of Bernie supporters on campus.

“It is hard to say whether the majority of Cornell students believe their vote matters when the vocal pro-Bernie constituency dominated campus discourse.”
Despite doubts about the power of the political establishments, members of the Cornell Republicans and Democrats both maintained that it is still important to vote.

“Democrats here in New York should try to ensure that each person can participate in the electoral process,” Bristow said.

“In reality, the way the primary is set up is not meant to ensure total democracy and a lack of bias,” McLaughlin said. “Leave the democracy and the people’s choice to the general election.”

A previous version of this article mischaracterized the statement of William Bristow ’16, President of Cornell Democrats, in saying he believes that criticism against the structure of the Democratic party is valid “especially in New York State.” In fact, his discussion of the voting system in New York was directed only at the process and the laws of New York State, not the “structure of the Democratic Party.”

One thought on “Cornell Political Groups Express Discontent With Establishment

  1. Read some History maybe? Superdelegates exist because people have a tendency to select unelectable candidates like George McGovern or people with no support like Jimmy Carter. The Democratic Party added superdelegates after going through decades of landslides and Republican victories.

    Not to mention Sanders is losing pretty emphatically overall.

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