Avid readers of the Jacobin may be able to surmise from my previous columns that I am not a member of, nor a fan of, the Cornell Republicans club. Or, more accurately given recent events, I was not a member of the Cornell Republicans club during the time when such a thing existed. That being said, I was disappointed to hear on Saturday that the New York Federation of College Republicans had voted to revoke the Cornell Republicans’ charter after their endorsement of “libertarian” presidential candidate Gary Johnson (who, it is worth noting, was a Republican for most of his career, and only chose to hoist the Libertarian banner once he dropped out of the 2012 Republican presidential primary). The NYFCR argues that it is frowned upon for a College Republicans chapter to forgo endorsing the Republican nominee, and has apparently decided it is unforgivable to give that endorsement to any other candidate, such as Mr. Johnson.
In any other election cycle the NYFCR would be on stronger ground. The organization’s charter merely stipulates that individual chapters support candidates who “promote the principles of the limited government, fiscal sensibility, economic freedom and personal responsibility.” Jeb Bush fell under that category. Sen.Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) fell under that category. Even alleged Zodiac Killer Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) could be contorted to fall under that category, if you ignore his embrace of theocracy and his lack of sensibility and responsibility in many regards. In fact, 16 of the 17 candidates for the Republican Party nomination fit under the umbrella lofted by the NYFCR. Unfortunately for the NYFCR (and America), the Republicans elected to elevate candidate #17 instead.
Donald Trump says so many contradictory things on a daily basis that one can almost forgive the NYFCR board for being deluded into thinking he was a principled politician committed to the ideas of movement conservatism. Perhaps they just plug their fingers in their ears whenever he advocates extensive use of eminent domain or starts talking about free trade like it were the advent of the apocalypse. I don’t see what else they could be doing, because Donald Trump in no way conforms to the standards they set for candidates. His unique brand of xenophobic authoritarianism is antithetical to the ideas of limited government and fiscal responsibility. His stances on trade run contrary to any legitimate notion of economic responsibility. He insistence that “[he] alone can fix it” undermines any notion of personal responsibility the Republican Party claims to stand for. Their nominee appears to have no actual grasp on policy, and sees fit to regurgitate whatever he just heard or saw on TV and present it as indisputable fact and plans. Donald Trump may be crazy, but at least he’s not conservative, and the NYFCR cannot fault Cornell Republicans for refusing to endorse his lunacy and divisiveness.
Because before asking any questions of policy, of legislation, of the Supreme Court, we must account for one thing: Donald Trump is a terrible person. Objectively, the man is a bully who panders to the worst of human nature; he is a narcissistic attention hog who would set America on fire just to provide better lighting for his TV cameras; he is so insecure that he felt it necessary to repeatedly attack a Gold Star family on national television because they rightfully questioned his blanket ban on Muslims; he is so utterly devoted to the Church of the Almighty Dollar that he made off with millions while leaving behind him a string of unpaid contractors, defrauded Trump U students and a decaying palace in Atlantic City.
Politics aside, this is not a good man. The president is the public face of the United States of America, and if we choose such a man, what does that say about who we really are? Are we a people who meet tough times with anger, reactionary resentment, racism, and hate towards others? Or do we put our heads down and work together to make progress for everyone? The Cornell Republicans recognize that Trump’s fundamental lack of decency and integrity disqualifies him from the presidency. The NYFCR has chosen to ignore those unavoidable facts, choosing to follow a misguided sense of party loyalty rather than human decency. They are at fault here, not the Cornell Republicans.
Normally I would not commend the endorsement of third party candidates for president. In this case as well, I had hoped that the Cornell Republicans would take a principled stand and follow the lead of former U.S. Senator Gordon Humphrey, current HP CEO (and former Republican gubernatorial candidate) Meg Whitman, and over 50 national security conservatives from the past four Republican administrations in publicly endorsing Hillary Clinton for president, but I understand why their membership would be unwilling to take such a drastic step.
That being said, while neither Trump nor Johnson have the answers to the problems we face, at least one of them is a good person who believes in what he says. Gary Johnson, by taking up the libertarian cause, may have adopted a philosophy that is as impractical as the Libertarian Party is eccentric, but at least he has a cause for which to fight, and truly wants to make America a better place. The only cause Donald Trump fights for is Donald Trump. In an ideal world, College Republican chapters across the state and country would do as Cornell Republicans has done, and repudiate the dangerous and unfit candidacy of Trump. Instead, the NYFCR has chosen to place party politics over the health of the nation, and prejudicially punish anyone with a differing viewpoint. Come November 9, it will be the NYFCR, and not the Cornell Republicans, who will have to answer to the failures of the Party of Trump.
Jacob Rubashkin is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Jacobin appears alternate Mondays this semester.