At this point, it would be redundant to rehash the slew of repulsive comments, actions, and policy positions that have led the Donald Trump campaign to where it is today. Taking the trip down that particular back alley of memory lane would rightfully make at least a few people dangerously nauseous. After all, the campaign has been driven from the get-go in large part by blatant misogyny, racism, xenophobia, and fear. It should be abundantly clear that in terms of his temperament and a stunning lack of substantive policy proposals, at least, Donald Trump is categorically unfit to serve as the president of the United States.
Thus, the silence coming from the University of Chicago College Republicans is very interesting. The College Republicans declined to endorse—or denounce—Donald Trump in late September, in what could be interpreted as a rebuke of the candidate overall. However, President Matthew Foldi emphasized that the group is not formally opposed to Trump and will remain neutral for this election cycle. Foldi framed the decision in terms of precedent, saying that College Republicans have not always endorsed presidential candidates. This year, they are apparently too busy endorsing senators, governors, and welcome letters.
The aforementioned traits of misogyny, racism, and general bigotry are no new features in American politics, and they’re probably not going to go away anytime soon. Perhaps it makes sense that the College Republicans withheld an endorsement of a candidate who goes out of his way to display these features for all voters to see, like a brilliantly tanned peacock with a tenuous grasp of reality that surrounds him.
Beyond the obvious danger presented by a man who openly bragged about sexual assault, discriminated against minorities as a businessman, and continues to heap praise upon authoritarian adversaries of the United States, there is something even more concerning about Donald Trump’s tragicomic quest for the presidency. Trump presents a unique and real threat to the democratic institutions and broader civil society that compose our republic in a way unlike any other figure in our lifetimes.
That assertion does not require a loud brand of fiery, youthful college #BernieOrBust progressivism to be substantiated; there is no tenable conservative justification for a Donald Trump administration. Trump is a proto-autocrat whose candidacy endangers the core of our political process—sowing seeds of doubt over the election, threatening to jail his opponent, and trying to silence unfavorable media coverage. The sheer magnitude of what is at risk outweighs the cost of a liberal-leaning court or an increased tax rate that would be wrought by a Clinton administration.
Trump’s candidacy itself is a strong argument against democracy. Yet despite the clear danger he poses, there are still those very much involved in the political process who are convinced they can stay on the sidelines. Our university’s College Republicans are one such example. It is deeply unsettling that a group representing one of the two major factions of our representative democracy is trying to avoid the discomfort of picking a president when one of the candidates is an outright disaster-in-waiting. The College Republicans are a part wider of the political landscape Trump threatens to upend.
Unlike the GOP officials still clinging to Trump over the last few weeks, the board of the College Republicans does not have to worry about losing seats in Congress. It would seem that at worst there is a danger of angering their parent Republican National Committee or otherwise staining party credentials. And so we are left with the supposedly neutral UChicago College Republicans. The social media accounts of the College Republicans, and now their board, operate as if they wish Trump did not exist. It is a deafening silence. Unfortunately, Trump does exist. If the College Republicans lack the courage to denounce him today, perhaps they should learn from Mark Kirk, whom they endorse. This is not the election to sit out.
Jake Eberts is a third-year in the College majoring in political science.