Last month, in probably the weakest endorsement since Lindsey Graham’s “Whether it’s death by being shot or death by being poisoned, it doesn’t matter” nod to Ted Cruz in the primary, the Yale College Republicans tepidly endorsed Donald Trump for president. Without much fanfare, they grudgingly cited their duty to “support Republicans up and down the ballot.” The endorsement came just days after the Harvard College Republicans disowned Donald Trump. The Yale College Republicans had been impersonated on Twitter by a fraudulent account condemning Trump and refusing to support his candidacy. With their hand unexpectedly forced, the YCR released a statement clarifying their intention to support the Republican Party’s nominee.
It is critical to remember that this is the Yale College Republicans, not the Yale College Conservatives. The YCR is merely a collegiate arm of the Republican Party; their purpose is to “support the GOP up and down the ballot.” For better or worse, Donald Trump is the Republican presidential nominee, and consequently, it is the YCR’s duty to support him.
Of course, the YCR may exercise discretion in how much effort to invest in local, state or national races. They may (and, judging by their lukewarm endorsement, most likely will) focus their efforts almost exclusively on promoting Republicans besides Trump this election cycle, squaring their constitutional responsibilities with private misgivings about Trump. The “Never Trump” Yale College Republicans can focus exclusively on local races, allowing them to help their party without having to directly assist the man they so detest.
Nevertheless, the group was quickly and roundly criticized on social media, with comments like “Pathetic and reckless. You guys should never have gotten into Yale, you obviously aren’t smart enough to be there.” Most damaging of all was the criticism levied by the right: Alumni decried the decision, and four of the seven executive board members of the Yale College Republicans resigned in protest, starting a “New College Republicans” group.
Consider the implications of rejecting the Republican nominee for President of the United States. Such an unprecedented stunt would only serve to discourage Republican voter turnout in a state and campus where Republicans are in short supply. At a time when local politics increasingly take a back seat to national politics, publicly disparaging the Republican presidential nominee damages the Republican brand, making Republicans down the ballot guilty by association, and promotes the damaging notion that the Republican Party is at war with itself. The primary is over. Like it or not, Donald Trump won the nomination.
The YCR’s fragmentation will only hamper Republican causes at Yale, scattering already scarce resources and members between two distinct groups.
But more to the point, the timing is suspect. If the YCR split was just about Donald Trump winning the nomination, it could have happened at any time in the past few months. Instead, it came only after the YCR reaffirmed their raison d’être and broadcast their support for Trump over social media. In other words, it only occurred once the YCR found themselves under public scrutiny.
Facebook was quick to draw unfavorable comparisons between the YCR and Harvard College Republicans, who took the unprecedented step of blasting a Republican nominee and refusing to endorse him.
But Harvard’s decision represents everything that is wrong with the Ivy League.
Such blatant disregard of popular support only confirms the notion that elitist Ivy League students are out of touch with the real world. Donald Trump won the Republican nomination by winning more primary votes than any other Republican candidate in history; moreover, Trump ran up a yuge (you knew it was coming) margin of victory in Connecticut and continues to poll well for a Republican in the Constitution State.
It is one thing to oppose Donald Trump, vote against Donald Trump or sever your ties with the Republican Party over Donald Trump.
As a matter of fact, I will do all three.
It is another thing entirely to tarnish the image of the Republican Party you claim to work for, eschew the constitution of the College Republicans and publicly flout that you presume to know better than millions of hardworking Americans.
Kudos to the Yale College Republicans for doing their job.
Grant Richardson is a sophomore in Davenport College. Contact him at email@example.com .