Op-eds

Rose ’19, Tarke ’18: Brown Republicans do not endorse Donald Trump

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Op-Ed Contributors
Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The 2016 presidential race has been an extraordinarily difficult one for conscientious voters on both sides of the political spectrum. Indeed, 60 percent of the country dislikes both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

The Brown Republicans Club took the question of who we would support for president to a vote, and the result was definitive: We cannot endorse Donald Trump for President.

Only 36 percent of the Brown Republicans Club plans to vote for the Republican nominee in this election. About 38 percent will vote for another candidate, 17 percent remain undecided, and 9 percent will not vote at all.

The fact that only just over a third of the club can support the nominee of our party three weeks from election day is an unprecedented indication of how poorly Trump represents the values we hold dear.

As conservatives, we believe that the best way to maximize human potential is through an unfettered free enterprise system. We support a strong military and secure borders in order to best defend our freedoms. We understand that state and local control of civic responsibilities is the most effective form of governance. And we respect a national government that operates within its monetary means and constitutionally defined powers.

How does Trump fail to represent our values?

First, he is a poor champion of conservative policy. His support of “no fly, no buy” gun control legislation is flagrantly ignorant of the Bill of Rights’ protections of due process and the Second Amendment. His opposition of the North American Free Trade Agreement and anti-free trade economic policy would not only precipitate a disastrous economic slowdown, but it’s not conservative. His opposition to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is dangerous and disloyal to our military treaties with allies across the globe.

When he is not advocating for ideas that are flatly at odds with conservative thought, Trump seems to grasp the general direction of some conservative tenets. But he utterly fails to implement them appropriately. Trump’s immigration policy, for example, misinterprets the most basic of facts. He has claimed he will force Mexico to build a physical wall by threatening remittances from people of Mexican origin in the United States. This would be an egregiously unconstitutional executive action that requires interpreting the Patriot Act in ways that would make President Barack Obama blush. Conservatives demand efficiency and a clear reckoning of opportunity costs for government projects, but a physical wall would be a grossly inefficient allocation of resources to stop illegal immigration.

Trump also proposes a ban on all Muslims from entering the country in a bid to stop radical Islamic terrorism. His impression that a simple yes-or-no question about a potential immigrant’s faith would be more effective at rooting out terrorists than the actual background check already in place is misguided. Further, treating a group of people worse than others because of their faith is an obvious violation of the principles on which America stands.

Even on the issue of appointing Supreme Court justices, Trump drops the ball. He has repeatedly endorsed gross violations of the Bill of Rights and basic human rights. He interprets constitutional questions of eminent domain and libel laws in a blatantly unconstitutional and self-interested manner. If his own interpretation of the Constitution is so flawed — despite months of careful guidance from the party’s top advisors — why should we assume that his Supreme Court selections will be any better?

Policy aside, Trump’s character is antithetical to the standards of common decency. From outright racist comments about a federal judge early in his campaign to his utterly unconscionable brags about sexually assaulting women, Trump has continually shown that he is unfit to lead the nation. As an ethnically and socioeconomically diverse group of individuals, we are deeply disturbed by Trump’s continued appeasement of the alt right.

Despite all this, some of our members feel there is no other option than to support Trump because even though he is not an ideal candidate, they find his opponents comparatively worse. His support for pro-life policies and his National Rifle Association endorsement are examples of such relative advantages.

Though we are forced to denounce Trump’s candidacy for president, we maintain faith that Republican leaders in Congress will continue to advocate for sound policy. Our club has been working closely with the U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-NH, reelection campaign to help maintain a Republican majority in the Senate, and we look forward to more legislation in support of Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Paul Ryan’s, R-WI, plan, A Better Way. Despite the fact that the GOP failed to produce a worthy presidential candidate, we are optimistic that the Republican party will move forward with a renewed commitment to conservative principles.

Austin Rose ’19 and Ethan Shire ’19 are executive board members of the Brown Republicans and Franklin Tarke ’18 is a member. The three write on behalf of the club and can be reached at austin_rose@brown.edu, ethan_shire@brown.edu and franklin_tarke@brown.edu, respectively.

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