Republicans at Macalester: we are a rare breed but we do exist. Personally, the overwhelming number of politically left ideologies played a key factor in my choice of Mac for higher education. I enjoy challenging my beliefs and trying to wrap my head around an issue from a different perspective to come up with the most common sense solution for the greater good.
Entering my sophomore year at Mac, I can say that this has happened many times throughout my experience. With the vast number of support for Democratic candidates at Mac, we often don’t hear a Republican’s take on election cycles unless coming from the national media, the Daily Show or Stephen Colbert.
The purpose of this piece, and hopefully subsequent editions, is to look at 2016 from a Republican mindset.
Personally, I consider myself a moderate, fiscally conservative however socially liberal. The Republican Party must change itself from the ways of its past, and not just a PR change, I’m talking about substantial changes to the very principles of the party. In 2015, the majority of Americans support marriage equality, a woman’s right to choose and comprehensive immigration reform. The Republican Party’s current branding, however, can be interpreted as AntiGay, AntiChoice and ProDeportation of all illegal immigrants. While these opinions do strike a nerve in a large portion of the electorate, such stances are out of touch with the majority of Americans.
A party like this cannot and will not successfully occupy the White House unless change arises.
The very notion that a change is necessary divides the party within itself, staunch conservatives not wanting to compromise while moderates want to see common sense governing. The party divide brings us to the current, crowded 2016 Republican field.
On the right of the spectrum we have the fiery and assertive mavericks of Cruz, Paul and Walker. Battling for the establishment are candidates Bush, Rubio, Huckabee, Christie and Kasich. We have the freshness of political outsiders Fiorina and Dr. Carson. We have those polling at 1% or lower (Perry, Santorum, Jindal, Graham, Pataki, and Gilmore). And then there’s Trump. For the past month and a half, Donald Trump has topped the polls, capturing over 3 times the support of long time frontrunner Jeb Bush.
To the astonishment of pundits and political consultants everywhere, nothing Trump says or does has been able to topple him from the gilded, Trump- decaled pedestal he comfortably sits upon. From paying people $50 to cheer for him to criticizing the war record of John McCain. From racially charged comments of Mexican immigrants to the lewd comments towards FOX’s Megyn Kelly, Trump has not only avoided falling in the polls, but he continues to grow at an exponential rate. Candidates have been forced to answer for Trump in interviews instead of their policy intentions. Trump is sucking all the oxygen out of the crowded GOP field and when candidates fight back, they instantly suffer in the polls (i.e. Graham, Perry, Paul).
To his credit, Trump has been striking a nerve with Americans fed up with the “politics as usual” of Washington. Trump has insisted time and time again that he is an outsider who cannot be bought, he’s already a billionaire.
Love him or hate him, Trump is giving the middle finger to politicians and in this political climate, voters are loving it.
Personally, I find Trump’s push for a Washington outsider residing in 1600 Pennsylvania Ave commendable; I just don’t care for Trump being that person. Practical options for a nonpolitician exist in place of Trump with former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina and neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson surging in the polls following excellent and thoughtful performances in the GOP debate. Just this last week Dr. Carson, following a sensible and quiet rise in support, tied with Trump for first in Iowa, according to a Monmouth University poll.
Personally, my support falls behind Chris Christie and Marco Rubio, but Dr. Ben Carson has garnered my attention within the last few weeks and I do believe he may be the candidate to watch over the next few months.
The race is still early and while frontrunners do exist, there has yet to be a likely GOP nominee.
The party has some stiff competition once a nominee is chosen. Hillary Clinton remains the popular front runner despite a few recent missteps, but the remarkable surge of a leftist Senator from Vermont has set wheels in motion for a whole new ballgame.