Don’t blame Republicans for Donald Trump

Kali Persall,
Managing Editor

When Donald Trump announced that he was running for president last June, I thought it was a joke. It wasn’t, and now here we are with a racist reality TV star as the presumptive Republican nominee. How did we let this happen?

As a Democrat, it’s easy to blame the Republicans. After all, it was their party that divorced all the other candidates and left the least qualified of all to claim the slot. Yet some Republicans still believe that the race isn’t over. Nonprofit Republican organization Delegates Unbound, which aims to reform the Republican Party by educating delegates about their freedom and responsibility when voting for candidates, believes that avoiding a Trump nomination is still possible.

The organization’s split-screen television commercial “Follow Your Conscience,” released on June 26, is a reminder that not all Republicans support Trump. The ad depicts a contrast of Ronald Reagan, the 40th President of the United States, with presidential hopeful, Trump, each addressing the nation.

“This national feeling is good,” Reagan states on one side of the screen. “I’d like to punch him in the face, I’ll tell ya,” says Trump on the other. Back and forth it goes for 30 seconds with the signature phrases of both campaigns. “Use of force is always and only a last resort,” Reagan famously states. “I would bomb the shit out of them,” retorts Trump.

The commercial, which ran nationally on television and received nearly 60,000 views on YouTube, cost approximately $170,000 dollars, according to Dane Waters, co-founder of Delegates Unbound. The group is looking to spend upwards of $3 million on the effort and relies strictly on individual donations for its funding.

Waters said the main goal of the commercial is to inform delegates that they aren’t bound to the candidate chosen in the primaries when they vote at the upcoming Republican National Convention in July. The ad urges them to instead vote according to their conscience.

According to the RNC website, the convention will host 2,470 delegates and 2,302 alternative delegates from all 50 states on July 18-21 in Cleveland, Ohio.

The ideal outcome, said Waters, would either be for another candidate to step in and challenge the nomination or for the delegates to appoint one.

“I do believe that if the delegates truly are allowed to vote their conscience, that someone will step forward and challenge Trump as the nominee,” said Waters, who has been involved in Republican politics over 30 years. Waters has worked on five presidential campaigns and in six continents and over 100 countries throughout his career.

Waters said the group strategically chose to contrast Trump with Reagan because Reagan is considered a gold standard of the party’s values by many Republicans, while Trump is perceived as a political outlier.

Waters received malicious emails and death threats from Trump supporters in response to the ad, as well as letters of support and monetary donations from fans.

“We’re not trying to tell anyone how to vote or what values you should have, we just thought it was important to remember what type of person should be the standard bearer of party,” said Waters. “The world and country should understand that not every Republican likes Trump.”

The numbers don’t lie. A NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll of 1,000 registered voters who were polled by phone from June 18-23, reveals that 52 percent of Republicans don’t actually want Trump to be president. In fact, less than half — only 45 percent — are satisfied with him as the nominee. The current state of the presidential race even has diehard Republicans like the Bush family, two members of which have held presidential office, running for the hills — towards Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, that is.

With Trump’s unfeasible “build a wall and make Mexico pay for it” agenda to the Hitler-reminiscent decree that all Muslims are terrorists looming in our country’s future, many Republicans are now scrambling to disassociate themselves from the train wreck of the Trump campaign.

Although Trump has a robust resume of blunders, his most recent attack on a U.S. District judge may have been the nail in the coffin. In a speech in San Diego in late May, Trump railed for twelve minutes against Judge Gonzalo Curiel — the US. District Judge of Southern California currently presiding over the civil fraud lawsuit against Trump University, the latest of Trump’s failed business ventures — for being a “hater of Donald Trump” and “not doing the right thing.” Trump then called for the judge to disqualify himself from the case, citing an alleged conflict of interest.

Trump later clarified his statements with the Wall Street Journal in early June. Despite the fact that the judge was born in Indiana as an American, because he was born to migrant farm workers, Trump called him “a Mexican” and said he had an “absolute conflict of interest,” considering Trump’s proposal to build a wall between Mexico and the U.S.

Last month, Republican Illinois Senator Mark Kirk denounced Donald Trump for these racist remarks about the judge.

“I have spent my life building bridges and tearing down barriers — not building walls,” said Kirk in a June 7 statement on his campaign’s website. “That’s why I find Donald Trump’s belief that an American-born judge of Mexican descent is incapable of fairly presiding over his case is not only dead wrong, it is un-American.”

Even Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who previously endorsed Trump as president, couldn’t reconcile with his remarks. “Claiming that a person can’t do their job because of their race is sort of like the textbook definition of a racist comment,” stated Ryan on June 7 during a visit to Washington D.C.

Trump has garnered support by being unfiltered and notoriously rebellious against political correctness. His unconventional approach has worked both for and against him, racking up the votes of people on the fringes of society who have become distrustful of the traditional political system, while simultaneously dividing the GOP. Although many Republicans did vote in favor of Trump — after all, he did make it to the nomination — his ill-informed tirades are beginning to wear thin on many of the very people he needs support from in order to finish strong.

“He has divided the party and he’s divided this country,” said Waters. “He’s creating an environment in this country in which that type of racism is rampant and will divide this country and put us on the path that will be hard to overcome in future generations.”

Waters specifically disagrees with Trump’s racial and religious profiling, his positions on banning Muslims from the U.S. and his most recent comments about Judge Curiel.

“I don’t want my son or anyone turning on the TV and seeing the stuff Donald Trump says,” said Waters. “He’s not the type of person that I feel represents what America’s about. He’s not good for this country as a whole.”