Op-Ed: Conservatism is Under Attack — Not Just, Allegedly, Republican College Students

The following is an op-ed written by Paul-Anthony Cuesta, a junior at Manhattanville College who is running for State Chair of the New York Federation of College Republicans. The op-ed does not necessarily represent the views The Cornell Review or any of its writers, and is not meant as an endorsement of Mr. Cuesta.

It is obvious that the elections of 2016 have been divisive, caustic and downright nasty. As a Republican, living in a traditionally blue state and studying at a college that like most are filled to the brim with liberalism, I know how it feels to be accosted for my views. Following the electoral college victory of Donald J. Trump, the Republican nominee, on November 8, as well as the clean sweep of the Republican party in the Congress, we have seen an uptick of unfortunate circumstances stemming from a divided country reacting to the results of the elections. On the College level in New York State, there have been numerous incidents of hate emanating from both sides of the coin.

Therefore, I have decided to run for State Chair of the New York State Federation of College Republicans. Regardless of one’s opinion on President Trump, I believe wholeheartedly that conservative ideas are superior to any other, and that the tenets of my party’s platform are more practical and productive. As a black Republican, I understand the trial and tribulations of minorities in this country, and most definitely in the great State of New York. Over the years, deep thinking and poignant conversations with esteemed Republicans have convinced me of the positive results that arise from limited government and adherence to individual independence and self-reliance. The government is needed, but only to a certain point, and then the private sector and individuals take over and make our lives more efficient, productive and prosperous. The potential in every single human being is inherent, but the liberal view of the job of government only hinders that potential. If everyone ran their lives like the government, we’d all be in 17 trillion dollars of debt because of overspending, borrowing money we cannot afford to repay and the inefficiency of bureaucracy. This view translates into how I believe the New York State Federation of College Republicans should be operated. A bottom-up approach, where the chapters and their Regional Representatives have the autonomy to do what they feel works best for them and not leadership in some remote region in the State.

My platform and my ticket, in general, gets to the crux of how our Federation ought to work. The previous leadership was successful in some regards, but several crucial issues were overlooked, or worse, downright ignored. After speaking to some elected officials throughout New York State, I realized that there was an unfortunate pattern of grievances. The principal criticism that came from elected officials in regards to the College Republicans was that there was minor involvement in political campaigns, county committees and political offices in general. This must change, and with my leadership, it will.

Another notable initiative in my platform is the necessity of expanding the Federation by credentialing new chapters. Liberalism is a major force on the College campuses because of their active outreach, and besides the fact that the decks are stacked against Republicans in academia from the outset, the Federation has dropped the ball in the outreach department. This will also change under my leadership, and I will ensure that more schools are brought in and will appropriate funds from the Federation Treasury to assist in the development of these clubs.

For many years I have been lambasted over my conservative values. I have been called every name in the book and have had people aggressively challenge my beliefs. I have never played the victim card because that is what the liberals are skilled at. Conservatives must continue to encourage by actions, not by appearing to be the martyrs. Our ideas are better, our adherence to the Constitution puts us on the higher ground than the liberals, and our belief in individualism and the value of hard work speaks louder than any victim portrayal. My record speaks for itself. I know what I am capable of and understand what it takes to be successful. As State Chair, the Federation will grow exponentially in several aspects. We will expand our influence throughout the state. We will become active in the political landscape because after all, that is what our members are interested in. More importantly, we will shape the dialogue in not just the State of New York but the entire nation. If you want to continue down the road of self-back-patting and bloviating, don’t vote for me, instead vote for my opponent. If you believe that a leader should be idle and nonexistent, and should only pad their resumes for self-interests, don’t vote for me. However, if you want a leader that is pragmatic, enthusiastic to make a genuine change, be practical and ensure that the New York State Federation of College Republicans grows and continues to be a force on the College level, then there’s no other option. I will be your champion, vote for the Forward! Ticket, you will not be disappointed.

Paul-Anthony Cuesta is the former Parliamentarian of the New York Federation of College Republicans and is now a candidate for State Chair. He is also currently a Junior at Manhattanville College, studying International Relations. Paul is also the National Outreach Director for the Black Conservative Foundation, and Director of Community Gardening at the Habitat for Humanity of Westchester.