Sam Hodgson/The New York Times

Cornell Democrats urge Cornellians who are considering voting third party or refusing to vote to reconsider casting a ballot for the former secretary of state.

September 5, 2016

Cornell Democrats Warn Against ‘Protest Votes,’ Say Only Clinton Can Stop Trump

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Members of Cornell Democrats encourage Cornellians to vote for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton this fall, admonishing those who would either cast a ballot for a third party candidate or avoid the polls as complicit in the threat of a Donald Trump presidency.

Club President Kevin Kowalewski ’17 urged Cornellians considering a third-party candidate to remember the 2000 election, when many citizens voted for Ralph Nader instead of former Vice President Al Gore because they “complained that George W. Bush and Al Gore were the same.”

“Unfortunately, we now know that these votes for Nader likely swung the outcome of the election, leading to the disastrous Bush presidency,” Kowalewski said. “Sixteen years have passed, and it is important to remind people that their protest vote can have severe consequences.”

Cornell Democrats treasurer Dylan Johnke ’17 agreed, adding that a scenario in which Trump loses by a large margin is “the only way our country can set straight this chapter in our history.”

“Defeating Trump in a landslide victory would represent our country soundly rejecting Trump’s bigotry, and demonstrate that those who support hate over unity do not speak for the American people,” Johnke said.

To Sanders Supporters

Some students who supported Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I-Vt.) presidential campaign are concerned that Clinton’s economic policies are too centrist, according to Cornell Democrats Vice President Gunjan Hooja ’17. Hooja sought to reassure students that Clinton’s proposed financial regulations are as aggressive as those Sanders suggested.

“In her own words, she has stated that: ‘As president, I would not only veto any legislation that would weaken financial reform, but I would also fight for tough new rules, stronger enforcement and more accountability that go well beyond Dodd-Frank,’” Hooja said. “Her commitment to working-class Americans and making sure Wall Street is well regulated is unparalleled by any other current candidate standing for election this cycle.”

She also pointed out that Sanders himself has stressed the importance of voting for Clinton as the only way to advance his political revolution.

“Sen. Sanders has been very clear that he believes a Hillary Clinton presidency is crucial for the continuation of his movement,” she said.

To Johnson Republicans 

Cornell Democrats also opposes Gary Johnson’s candidacy, Kowalewski said, responding to the Cornell Republicans’ contentious endorsement of the Libertarian candidate.

“While [Johnson] may be reasonable on certain issues, he also believes that we should cut the corporate tax rate to zero percent, repeal Obamacare, abolish the federal minimum wage, and eliminate the Department of Education,” he said

Still, the Cornell Democrats hail the rejection of Trump that this endorsement represents, Kowalewski said.

“We applaud this rejection of Trump’s racism, and we hope it will allow us to move on to a serious discussion of the critical economic issues that separate conservative views from our perspective,” he said.

To Non-Voters

Members of Cornell Democrats stressed that calling Trump and Clinton equally abhorrent is a “distorted perspective.”

“To those who think Hillary is as bad as Trump I say: wake up and smell the fascism,” Johnke said. “The only way a liberal could fear Hillary as much as Trump is if they bought into the conspiracy theories and hate-mongering that have been peddled by conservatives for decades.”

Clinton’s presidency would be “similar to another four years of an Obama administration,” Johnke added, making the case for a continuation of liberal policies rather than more radical and unpredictable change.

“If you believe that would be worse than a man who literally advocates for committing war crimes, banning Muslims, deporting immigrants and punishing women who have abortions, then we must have different priorities,” he said.

Equating the two presidential candidates would disregard their differences in “conduct, temperament and experience,” according to Cornell Democrats Secretary Natalie Brown ’18.

“How can we say that someone who served as First Lady, a senator and a Secretary of State, and who has been an advocate for children and families for decades, is the same as a millionaire with no political experience at all?” Brown said. “How can we say that Trump, a racist demagogue who alienates large parts of the nation, is the same as as Hillary, who at least treats her political adversaries with respect and has focused on inclusion?”

Echoing Johnke, Brown said that those who cannot see the differences between Clinton and Trump “are either not watching the race enough or are willfully choosing to ignore the canyon between them.”

With Her

Hooja asked Cornellians who plan not to vote to reconsider supporting Clinton in the general election, saying “the sacrifice of the people that have come before you in order to give you the right to vote is far too large for you to stay home.”

Refusing to vote would also endanger “the greater good of this country,” Hooja said.

“Too much is at stake for the people and future of this country for you to choose any other option than the one that is most assured to deny a xenophobe, racist, demagogue and misogynist from attaining the highest office in the land,” she said.