College Republicans Drama Tests The Future of GOP
September 21, 2016
It’s no secret that Donald Trump is not a favorite among young people. Lately, polls have shown him trailing Hillary Clinton among under-30 voters by a significant margin. Even among the core base of young Republicans, Trump’s inflammatory style of campaigning has prevented many from supporting him.
Nowhere has his tension-testing demeanor been more evident than in the New York Federation of College Republicans. On Sept. 2, the Cornell University Republicans publicly endorsed Gary Johnson, the presidential candidate of the Libertarian Party, instead of Trump. Their announcement expressed disdain for “Mr. Trump’s visceral and angry demeanor” while extolling Johnson’s record for fiscal conservatism and support among veterans.
Such an act of treason could not go unnoticed by the New York Federation of College Republicans — they immediately revoked the Cornell University Republican’s credentials and privileges, including participation in events and fellowships. According to Olivia Corn, the chairwoman of the Cornell University Republicans, the revocation was invoked through a secret vote by the New York Federation’s executive board. This move effectively circumvented any kind of transparency or democratic process and denied the Cornell Republicans any chance to speak in their defense.
On Sept. 15, the Cornell University Republicans threatened to sue the Federation, citing the fact that the Cornell Republicans were not violating the New York Federation’s constitution by endorsing a non-Republican candidate. Furthermore, the chairman of the New York Federation, NYU senior Eli Nachmany, is a paid staffer on the Trump campaign and was thus motivated by reasons of spite or personal taste. In the face of this threat, Nachmany did what he had to do — he resigned.
It’s the kind of intra-organizational drama that would seem trite and petty in any other election year. But this is not any other election year. It speaks to how deeply Donald Trump has turned over the natural order of things, to the point where our political affiliations look more and more like flimsy wireframes every day. From the highest marks of the party itself all the way down to the grassroots college-level efforts, Trump has cleaved a divide between those who stand up for the principles they believe in, even if it means betraying their party, and those who would rally behind an egotistical, lying braggart if only to keep their trembling elephant standing a little longer.
As a gateway to the nation’s future leaders, the New York Federation of College Republicans has displayed horrendous judgment. I shudder to think that Nachmany was potentially considering bringing his uncouth backdoor maneuvering to actual political office one day. Then again, if Trump-alikes are to be the future of the Republican party, that sneakiness may well be welcomed with open arms.
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Email Richard Shu at [email protected]