Op-ed: Why we abandoned Donald Trump (and why you should too)
By a staggering margin of 76 percent to 24 percent, the members of American University College Republicans (AUCRs) have voted to withhold an endorsement of Donald J. Trump, the Republican nominee for president. In an even more devastating repudiation of the Trump candidacy, 82% of our members voted to campaign for down ballot races to protect the Republican majority in Congress, as opposed to the 18% of survey respondents that desired to use AUCRs resources to campaign for Trump. I believe that’s what President Obama referred to as a “shellacking” after his party got decimated in the 2010 midterms.
I was elected as President of AUCRs at a contentious moment for the Republican Party. Our primary was still in progress, and Trump was fighting a two-front battle to secure the Republican nomination against Senator Ted Cruz and Ohio Governor John Kasich. After having worked for Senator Rubio’s campaign, I was a man without a candidate. After much deliberation, I submitted an absentee ballot for Donald Trump in my home state of New York.
I supported Trump for two major reasons. The first was that I earnestly thought Trump would pivot and act more presidential. I was among the conservatives that thought Trump was capable of pivoting to a more traditional candidate that cared about learning policy and campaigning. Foolish, I know, but you can’t blame me for being optimistic. I was excited at the idea of an outsider going in to fundamentally transform the way Washington operates. I thought he would run a smart campaign championing policy initiatives that would truly make America great again.
Furthermore, I thought Trump would unify the party. Going up against the Clinton machine is a formidable task. When the field cleared in the first week of May, I was ecstatic that we would have a chance to rally around Trump to beat Hillary. I thought he would work hard to unify the party around his candidacy. Since then, Trump has lashed out at countless Republican officials, often for the simple sin of not declaring ultimate fealty to his campaign. I had much higher hopes for someone who had a legacy for being a master negotiator and businessman.
Since Trump secured the nomination in early May, his campaign has been in freefall. Trump has failed to accomplish anything I thought he would do. Trump has continued to insult other Republicans, and has failed to focus on the many controversies surrounding Hillary Clinton. Trump shows absolutely no dedication to any of the qualities that makes a president great, much less any dedication to policies that would actually make America great again. You would be hard-pressed to fill a 3x5 index card with what Trump knows about public policy. And worst of all? By his own admission, he doesn’t care about winning the election.
Trump seems more energized in attacking his fellow Republicans than attacking the Democrats and Hillary Clinton. Trump could have been a Kempian figure, advocating for a better path away from the last eight years. I am dismayed to see that he has embraced a campaign strategy akin to a primal scream steeped in blind rage. Trump’s campaign is built on fear instead of hope, and darkness instead of light.
As AUCR’s president, I strive to create an inclusive environment for Republicans of all stripes. No matter what kind of Republican you consider yourself, you are welcome in our community. At the end of the day, we always unite around the common principles that make us conservatives. Since clinching the nomination, I have yet to see Donald Trump attempt to create such an environment for my party or our country, or display loyalty to conservative principles.
It is time to demand the RNC replace Donald Trump at the top of the ticket. Trump has not shown the willingness or the talent to beat Hillary Clinton, so it is imperative that RNC Chairman Reince Priebus pressure Trump to withdraw, and replaces him with a candidate with the gravitas to unite the party and win this election. We deserve a fighting chance at winning this election, because Hillary Clinton would be a disaster as President.
I’m glad our members voted to dedicate our time and effort to protecting our Congressional majority. I’m looking forward to rallying our dedicated and talented volunteers to campaign for down-ballot races before Election Day. I’m honored to serve as the President of AUCRs, even during this tumultuous time. I will never apologize for taking the concerns of our members into account in any decision that I’ll make this year.
As a club, we’ve abandoned Donald Trump. Unless he miraculously changes course, you should too.
Tom Hebert is a junior in the School of Public Affairs and is the 2016-17 AU College Republicans president.