“True conservative” – a descriptor not even Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson would ascribe to himself, yet the Cornell Republicans declared him as such, and the only one of such running for president in 2016, in a recent Facebook post.
The endorsement comes a little over a week after the Cornell “Daily” Sun published a staff editorial calling on the Cornell Republicans to renounce and, by implication, not endorse Donald Trump for president.
The Sun, in its editorial, wrote Trump’s views “defy the values of equality and diversity that are fundamental to both our collegiate and national values” and “The list of Trump’s policy weaknesses and character failings is endless.” Even though the Sun has a staff of over 100 to think of phrases to discredit the GOP candidate, they couldn’t avoid including this cliche: Trump is a “clear and present danger.”
The Cornell Republicans add on: Trump displays “visceral rhetoric and angry demeanor” and “insults our war heroes.”
It seems both are reading the same DNC talking points.
It was difficult to predict whether the Cornell Republicans would endorse Trump. Two previous Sun articles quoted executive board members hosting a range of views: here and here. Some liked Trump’s “law and order” message while others were “insulted” by chants of “USA, USA” before his speeches.
The issue here is not so much the non-endorsement of Donald Trump. In fact, in light of all the ideological differences in the Cornell Republicans and the desire of many members to remain in good graces with the Campus Establishment, it would have been best to simply not endorse anyone, if a Trump endorsement was so unfathomable to the executive board. But calling Johnson a “true conservative” means the executive board of Cornell Republicans do not understand conservatism — which is highly embarrassing — and it is a designation Johnson himself would not even accept.
“Supporting a candidate who does not defend the right to life, does not defend religious liberty and calls Hillary Clinton a ‘wonderful public servant’ is a flippant reaction to the choosing of a bad nominee,” said local libertarian activist Rocco Lucente.
“The time to stop Donald Trump was during the primaries and I wish Cornell Republicans had stood up and endorsed a true liberty candidate such as Senator Rand Paul to carry the torch for the GOP at that time. Endorsing Gary Johnson sends the message that promoting conservative and libertarian principles is secondary to signaling your distaste for Donald Trump.”
But, this is college, and virtue-signalling trumps all else.
It would have made some sense if the Cornell Republicans endorsed Johnson because they want the GOP to become more libertarian in general, but by calling Johnson a “true conservative” they have betrayed their true feelings: the executive board of Cornell Republicans aren’t libertarians — otherwise they could have called Johnson a “true libertarian” — but rather they are some form of weak conservative or otherwise unwilling to support Trump, or simply remain aloof from endorsements.
At the end of the day, the endorsement or non-endorsement of Ivy League #NeverTrump College Republicans doesn’t really mean anything on a larger scale. But here on campus, it means a lot, especially now the Cornell Sun knows it can call on the Cornell Republicans to jump and the Cornell Republicans will respond: “how high?”
True conservatives do not listen to the lamentations of a left-wing campus publication dictating unto them how to conduct themselves politically.
The Cornell Sun, of course, no longer prints daily, and it can be now be said the Cornell Republicans no longer represent Republicans and conservatives at Cornell.