The Cornell University College Republicans plan to “make an announcement” later this week and are likely preparing to endorse a presidential candidate. One particular candidate poses an imminent threat to the values of our country and our campus.
From its founding, Cornell has been a progressive institution, striving to foster an egalitarian and diverse campus. Although never perfectly implemented, the motto ‘any person, any study’ was and remains a radical notion: that every student should have an equal opportunity to receive an excellent education. Regardless of socioeconomic status, race, gender, sexual orientation or physical ability, every student is equal in the pursuit of higher education.
Donald Trump’s candidacy is antithetical to these ideals. In the past year, Trump has demonstrated a fundamental callousness and cruelty toward entire populations of the United States. He is the first presidential candidate in years not only to personally insult his opponents, but also to launch aggressive and bigoted attacks on various sectors of this country. The Republican nominee has called for a ban of Muslim immigrants entering the United States, mocked the disabled, insulted prisoners of war, called for and sparked violence against his opponents and validated the reintroduction of dog whistle racism in national political discourse.
These actions, and much else in Trump’s platform, defy the values of equality and diversity that are fundamental to both our collegiate and national values. There are countless reasons for members of the Cornell community, including the Cornell Republicans, to renounce Trump:
With Cornellians working together in classes and clubs and organizing around social issues, this campus is a testament to the collective strength and creativity of collaboration. A man who declares to the country that he “alone can fix it” has no place in our constitutional democracy, and we cannot support these authoritarian instincts on a campus devoted to collective progress.
As a diverse community that includes Muslim students, veterans, immigrants and people of color, we must promote respect and inclusion by disavowing a nominee who treats them with unabashed contempt. One of the greatest values of a Cornell education is the richness in learning that results from the collaboration and discourse of 14,000 unique individuals. Cornellians, who are more privileged than many American citizens for living in such a rich community, have a responsibility to defend the virtue of diversity.
As a research institution, Cornell is also a bastion of cutting edge academic study. Trump — who has called climate change a “pseudoscientific theory” and called the National Institutes of Health “terrible” — indulges in blatant anti-intellectualism that defies reason and fact. He is a man who is more likely to mock than applaud this campus’ efforts to achieve carbon neutrality by 2035.
The Cornell community is served and strengthened by newspapers and other media organizations, including The Cornell Daily Sun. Trump’s threats to “loosen libel laws” and repeated revocation of press credentials flies in the face of the protections of the First Amendment. A free press is the lifeblood of democracy; to limit its reach is a betrayal of our founding document and a thinly veiled attempt to limit the agency and knowledge of American citizens.
The list of Trump’s policy weaknesses and character failings is endless. In the face of a clear and present danger to the American experiment, we as students and patriots must call for a higher standard of morality and devotion to our country’s creed. This summer, the Harvard Republicans Club took a bold step in this direction when they decided not to endorse their party’s nominee for the first time in 138 years. Labeling Trump’s “flirtations with fascism” a threat “unparalleled in the history of our democracy,” the Harvard students also called on other college Republicans to condemn Trump. We are optimistic that Cornell Republicans will prove as courageous and principled as their Harvard peers.
As a community that celebrates all differences, including differences of opinion, we encourage campus Republicans to continue a tradition of open and civil political discourse that will enrich all campus discussion and debate. But to either support Donald Trump or stand by silently as he marches toward the general election is a decision that transcends political differences and endangers the United States. By renouncing Trump, the Cornell Republicans would not only remain loyal to their conservative values, but also reaffirm the ideals of our University and country.